I was twenty-two years old when I loc’d my hair. It is the only other time it has been this short (or a little shorter than this).
As a spiritual-minded person, I do not think of hair as just hair. I see it also as energy. (I believe the keratin protein in hair contains crystalline structures that act as energy amplifiers and antennas.) Thus, as the years have gone by, a lot of energy has been built into my locs. Some of it good, some of it not so good.
While there is the power of all I’ve accomplished, there is also the energy of losing loved ones. The energy of miscarriages. The energy of depression and sadness. As the years passed, my hair became more burdensome. They are thick and healthy but heavy. I saw this as much more than the weight of hair, but the weight of all I was still carrying after thirteen years of growth.
While I don’t think I will ever cut my locs off completely (I love my hair!), the symbolism of my cut is a cutting off of toxic emotions stored in my hair over the years and a separation from the past. It is a physical, mental, and spiritual cleansing through the release of the old and embracing the new. As I let go of those old branches, I await the beauty of the new ones to come in.
Just as pruning trees helps to remove portions that have a disease, fungi, and other types of decay, my trim represents the removal of those parts of my hair that can spread to the other “branches” and prevent them from healthier growth. It helps expose my scalp to more sunlight, air circulation makes it easier to wash and sleep, and it does not hurt my neck and back.
I feel this all on both a physical and spiritual level.
I love the overall freedom this new look gives me. I literally felt a weight lift when these heavy locs hit the floor.
This year, I intend to live more freely. I do not want to rush to do anything, conform to anyone’s ideas, or allow myself to be limited in any way. I am here for it all. This haircut is a symbol of this freedom.
I am excited about this new beginning.
PS. Exciting new update on the Black History book coming!!
Social media is a powerful vehicle for publishing short-form content that people can digest quickly and easily. We are all lazy to an extent with short attention spans.
Which is why I love blogging as a way of publishing long-form content.
It gives writers a chance to fully express the completeness of their thoughts. And, if you are long-winded like me, I enjoy being able to thoroughly add context to my thoughts with examples to nurture further understanding.
Blogging also helps me to keep writing in those spaces when I am not actively writing a book. (I wrote more about that here) This is important because it means I can continue to sharpen my writing skills (through actually writing) and engage with others even when I haven’t published anything new.
But there’s an exciting twist!
Blogging has, so far, helped me to publish two books, with another on the way. That’s because, unlike static websites, blogs are updated regularly, allowing people to leave immediate feedback and share. Authors can see how their content performs in real-time, producing invaluable information they can apply later.
One of the most powerful ways blogging helps me is my ability to repurpose the content I publish here into larger works. Thus, even when I don’t think I am laying the foundation for new works, I am!
The financial part of Self-Publishing is not talked about enough. Lack of funding can get in the way of an author producing a high-quality book which can get in the way of that author selling that book.
One solution you can employ is to reinvest in yourself by taking the money you make from your book to publish more books!
I’m a slow writer. By slow, I mean I only publish 1-2 books yearly. I have no plans of publishing a book this year. But here’s the twist:
The money I made and saved in 2022 will help me to publish in 2023.
I have the privilege of speaking at Griffin High School again this year. As you know, teaching, children, and writing are all passions of mine, so whenever I can combine them is a plus. This will pay for editing my black history book. The money I made from book signings will help to cover the cost of the cover and other things.
See where I’m going with this? I knew you would.
If you think about it, by reinvesting, you are not spending your own money!
It’s about changing your perspective and putting those creative skills to work.
No. I did not publish a book this year.
I’ve been stacking my coins so I can publish two books next year.
One complaint I hear from new Self-Publishers (a lot) is how much they wish they could do what they see other authors doing.
Usually, these are authors they perceive are more successful. I say perceive because you really don’t know what that person is going through, has gone through, or what they sacrificed to be where they are now.
But know this:
You are doing yourself a disservice when comparing your progress to others.
If you’ve published your first book, it is not fair for you to compare yourself to someone publishing their third or fourth book. Your journey will not be the same. Never measure your year one with someone else’s year ten.
My first few books were duds. I’m talking bootleg covers and crappy editing. The only people who bought them were members of my organization at the time—like someone whose church family buys their book.
The problem with this is that I wasn’t reaching anyone else. No one outside of my spiritual family and genetic relatives knew who I was.
It wasn’t until The Stella Trilogy (books 6-8) that I found my voice, and people became aware of who I was. Starting this blog and the support from the blogging community also helped. People interviewed me on their blogs, let me guest post, re-blogged my articles, and helped me to cast a wider net.
I miss those days!
But this was five books in.
Five published books before I saw some ripples. That’s five years.
I share my process and my journey to be an inspiration to aspiring and new Indie Authors. I share to raise awareness about the difficulties and perks of the self-publishing industry as I’ve experienced it and to spark hope for those seeking this path.
I do not share these things for you to look down on yourself, your journey, or your process.
Don’t give up on yourself too quickly. You have your own lane. A lane that will lead you to so many great endeavors and opportunities. Walk in it.
Own the space you are in.
PS. This message can also apply to life in general.
I’ve been Self-Publishing my books for twelve years now. Usually, after learning I’ve published fourteen books and counting, people are astonished. They want to know what the secret is. There’s only one problem.
I don’t have a secret.
But, I do have a system.
System: A set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized framework or method.
Every time I publish a book, I follow the same 5-7 steps.
Call it a schedule if that’s easier, but this timetable helps me to publish with ease every time.
This is the new book cover for my first novel, The Aftermath (2012), which I revealed years ago. I had planned to launch a second edition but still have not finished revising it. However, I won’t have to worry about a cover when I get around to it. It is bought and paid for.
As you can see, I don’t always keep my steps in exact order, but I am never too far off track because I have a blueprint to follow.
Tip: Always get your book edited and formatted before your artist designs the entire book cover because the book’s trim size determines the book’s dimensions. A cover design (just the front) is okay if you’d like to use it to promote and build excitement, but for an accurate width of the spine, for instance, your artist will need your exact number of pages which you won’t know until the book is edited and formatted. Getting the text formatted before the final cover is complete is part of my system.
What I am saying to you is I do the same thing repeatedly. No magic. No secret sauce. Just systems and consistency.
I call this series Indie Author Basics because I genuinely believe simplicity is king. All you have to do is find a way that works for you and repeat it. That’s a system. A collection of parts working together.
If you have not written your book, what can you do every day to move you closer to finishing? Could you write it every morning while drinking coffee? Could you write it before bed? During lunch? What system works for you?
If you’ve written your book but have not published it, click on the link below and schedule a call with me. If you are looking to Self-Publish, you don’t have to figure out a system. Just use mine!
I met Vivica in 2018 when she released her book Everyday I’m Hustling, which I read and reviewed. In it, she talks about not overpaying to play. When applied to Self-Publishing, this kind of advice can save us tons of money and wasted time.
The scammers are getting clever by the day, and they gear their tactics toward Self-Published authors. One thing we can do to arm ourselves is to understand the difference between investing in ourselves and our books and paying to play.
An investment in your book is anything that will help with the publication, promotion, and marketing of your work in a way that brings value. These are usually services offered by well-known, reputable people and organizations that produce quality. It is when you vet and hire a competent editor, when you pay for a dope cover design, when you buy ads, when you pay for web design, coaching, and so forth. These are investments that can take you to new levels. It’s an investment because you get a return.
Paying to Play
Paying to play is paying an obscene amount of money for hype that offers no real value. They usually package these as opportunities to take your business to the next level. It could mean paying 10K to a vanity press to publish your book only to come out with a crappy cover and poorly edited book slapped up on Amazon or paying 2K to attend a pointless conference.
Vivica explains it this way:
“When you get a little bit of success, you start getting invited to these big dinners and awards nights that on paper look like a great place to network. These invites can cost three hundred dollars and up! After you go to a few, you realize that you really just get the cocktail hour to network, and then it’s hard to see anyone once you’re seated for the presentation.”
Republishing your book to send to “investors” or “get you a traditional publishing contract.”
Filming a pricey book trailer
Book-to-Film “licensing” (See my post on this heartbreaking scam And here’s Alli’s warning, including business names the book-to-film scammers use.) I hear from people every day who have been snagged by this scam.
High-ticket, useless marketing services.
Buying you an interview on a podcast or radio show nobody listens to.
And I will add to that:
Paying to be featured in an article no one knows exists or reads
Paying thousands to a vanity press only to receive poor editing and crappy cover art
Paying to speak at an event in exchange for “exposure” (seasoned speakers should get paid to speak)
Let’s say someone offers to promote your book to their 20K followers. What you want to look at is their engagement, not followers. No one will see your book if they have tons of followers, but no engagement. Engagement is likes, comments, saves, and shares. If they charge you money to promote on their page and they have 20K followers but 0-3 likes on a post, this is a red flag. It means chances are they bought their followers. (Buying followers is also a form of paying to play.)
Note: There’s nothing wrong with not having much engagement for the everyday social media user who is learning. I am talking about the people charging you money to be featured on their platform and using their millions of followers as bait.
Paying to play can also look like being offered a chance to be featured in an article in Forbes for the low price of $500.
Umm. Why would I pay to be featured in an article if I’m for real dope? Shouldn’t Forbes reach out to me?
This is the stuff we have to pay attention to. Many of these features in articles and media have been bought, not earned. This is paying to play the game.
Everything is Not a Scam, But Vet People
I am not one of those “everything is a scam,” type people. Some businesses are new to what they are offering and we all know to become an expert, you must start. Everybody was a newbie at something at some point. You will know the scammer by the services offered in relation to the price tag. Why am I paying 5K to attend a conference for you to tell me to have more faith? Not when I can take that money and pay for professional therapy.
I’m passionate about sharing my experiences as a Self-Published author because there are so many scams aimed at us. They mainly target the novice Self-Publisher. I do not mean the novice writer. You can have written before and be a master of the English language and still get scammed because you know little about Self-Publishing a book. Or, you can have Self-Published and still get scammed. It can happen to any of us.
That’s why our greatest weapon against it is knowledge and experience.
“I always tell people to educate themselves with real experience.” – Vivica A. Fox
I won’t keep you today, but I want to share this short message.
Most Self-Published authors publish a book, do a happy dance, and then let it rust away on Amazon, never to be seen or heard from again.
That’s because most Indie Authors are still waiting to be Amazon Best Sellers, rack up on thousands of reviews, and wait for Amazon to send them royalties.
And there is nothing wrong with any of this.
Except, sometimes those royalties don’t be royal if you know what I mean.
And getting new reviews can be like pulling teeth.
Both are important, but I want you to know you don’t have to pull your hair out waiting. There are people who have few reviews on Amazon and still do very well and it’s because they stepped outside the box. They did something different.
And so can you.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years is that the book is only the beginning. It is a foundation, an open door, a ticket…
But into what??
Whatever you want.
Your Self-Published book is the beginning of a fresh course, community, even a movement for political and social change.
Writing a book sets you apart as an expert in your field. You are now equipped to speak on the topic of your book (yes, fiction writers, you too), teach the themes of your book, or advocate for the message of your book.
You can sell signed paperback copies of this book from your own website, sell them in bulk at schools, libraries, and bookstores.
You can build an entire course and online school from your book, or vend at large events, conferences, and workshops.
Strategic Self-Published authors see the book, not as the end, but the beginning of a journey into more.
And why is this important?
Because a Self-Published book lost in the sea of Amazon does not produce more fruit.