Self-Publishing – Laying Bricks Ep 4: The Pathway

Laying Bricks(1)

People lay bricks for many different reasons. Whether you are building for a brick home, a drive through, or storefront, the process is the same. Like mathematics, as long as you have the basic formula for masonry you can succeed in brick laying. As long as you remember to add, subtract, multiply, and divide you can solve any seemingly complex mathematical equation. Unless of course you’re like me and you hate math.

Nonetheless, Self-Publishing is the same way. Once you’ve established the basics of building a book, you can do so repeatedly and that is what this series is all about. Everything else is just an add on. You may have built a house but it doesn’t have to stay the way you built it. You can add rooms, roofing, or extra bathrooms if you want.

Now that we’ve written a well written story, gotten it edited, beta read, and critiqued, now what?

Advanced Reviews, Pre-Launch

This episode took me a little longer. It took me longer because writers can do this in many different ways. Self-Publishing doesn’t have any official rules and for that this step can in fact also include marketing and promotion. To keep things simple, let’s just focus on building the book first. So, in this episode of Laying Bricks it is time to pull out your multipurpose hat.

Advanced Book Reviews

Once your book is the way it was meant to be, it is time to send it off for advanced reviews. This process is most important as it helps you to garner reviews in advanced. In this way, by the time the book is released, your reviews can help the book to sell. With Indie’s doing everything themselves, reviews give us room to depend on some outside help.

When deciding who you want to review your book, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Genre – Not a neccessity, but can be very helpful. When someone reviews your book who is actually part of that books genre— let’s say a fan of Historical Fiction reviewing your HistFic masterpiece—you have a better chance at expanding your audience. This isn’t to say anyone can’t review you at all, just that those of your genre makes it that much better. When you desperately send your book out to anyone, you increase your chances of marketing your book to the wrong audience.

Desperation – Speaking of desperation, don’t be desperate. I know, desperate times cause for desperate measures! However, take some time and be a little strategic about who you send your books out to. Target people who are not only in your genre but who have a passion for books with a genuine love for reading. Visit their websites and blogs to make sure they’re a real person, that they’ve reviewed books before, and that their subscriber number is decent. Listen, don’t get the wrong idea here. I’m not saying it’s all about the numbers because its not. I’m saying you want to get the most of the experience.

While we all have to start from somewhere, quality attracts quality. The whole point of reviews is to help the author. That said, make sure there’s enough of that reviewers’ blog traffic to make a difference for your book in some way. If you choose to pay for a review, make sure the prices are reasonable and that the person or company is well-established. There are lots of frauds out there and people taking advantage of Self-Publishers and you wouldn’t want to cause any unwanted attention to your Amazon account.

Follow The Rules – Every serious Book Reviewer has a list of rules and regulations to accompany their services. Paid or not paid, Reviewers must have a policy in place. This is important because books take up a lot of time. As much as I love to read, I cannot possibly read every single book that comes my way. In addition, though reading books is personal, even it requires some order.

  • Research the reviewer < Make sure they are real people and not weirdos. Yes, weirder than me.
  • Submit your request exactly as their policy states.
  • Pay special attention to the books they do not accept so you don’t get an email back and become that guy. Or girl.
  • Address the reviewer by name, make it personal. Try not to sound thirsty or in other words, desperate (even if you are).
  • Follow their blog, follow their social media. Make sure this reviewer’s energy and the vibe is fitting for your book. This isn’t to say reviewers don’t read a wide range of material, it’s just about you the author being strategic and getting the most out of the experience.
  • Consider the reviewers time. Yes, they are agreeing to read books for free but you aren’t the only person in the world. Reviewers get tons of emails a day from Indie Authors requesting reviews. Keep in mind that there may be a line. As such, if your book is 300 or more pages, don’t expect that reviewer to finish it in two weeks. If you have a deadline, be sure to contact the reviewer far enough in advance to meet your deadline and be realistic about it. Reviewers may read fast on their own leisure time, but to review a book is to study it enough to give sensible feedback. No, it’s not an academic assignment or anything but it’s not a race either. Give people time to really read it if you want to get the most logical feedback. If you want us to scan it and throw some stuff together, we can do that too. Your choice.
  • Don’t be rude. With the exception of a few because I know there are some, most of us to include yours truly, do not promise 5-star reviews. In fact, we are not reading your book in exchange for a glowing review at all. If the book is not up to par do not expect to be lied to unless of course, that’s your thing. If a reviewer gives you a low rating, don’t curse them out. Try to understand that whether the book was good or not they invested something they can never get back: Their time. They’ve done you a great service. Take the advice and use it to further perfect your work.

Pre-Launch Strategy

First, what is a pre-launch strategy? According to The Marketing People:

“Premarketing is the foundation stage of any marketing plan to enable business development. Prior to any marketing, SEO or social marketing, this step ensures that you have the right brand. The right website, stationery, brochure/catalog and other related sales and marketing tools in place. To ensure you capitalize on your ongoing marketing and sales team activity.”

In addition to garnering advanced reviews, you need something to do while your book is being read. This is a great time to start pre-launch strategies.

I hope that by now you’ve already established a few things:

  • Blog / Website
  • Email Newsletter
  • Social Media Accounts

If you do not already have these stop writing right now. Yes, step away from the computer, put the pen down and grab the laptop. Now go to your room young man / lady. Yes, you. Close the door and don’t come out until you have social media accounts up, a blog or website, and an email newsletter.

When I first started publishing, I followed the following trend:

  • Write book
  • Publish Book
  • Tell people about book (quietly)
  • Wait for people who I didn’t tell about the book to find me

This isn’t wrong necessarily (well, the last one is), it’s just out of order a bit. It’s not how you promote, it’s when. Marketing and Promoting your book when it comes out should just be one aspect of it. In last week’s article Planning Book Releases in Advance, we spoke a little bit about this. That is, planning for your books arrival at least six months to one year in advance. Plan for your books release before, during, and after the book is written.

If you haven’t done so, no worries, there is hope.

If you have not taken the time to plan pre-launch strategies for your book, do so now while your book is being read.

  • Build a Fan Base

OK, so your book isn’t out yet but what are you doing to prep people for it? This is a question I ask myself every day.

Social media is not really about selling books even if you’re like me with an online bookstore. Social media is about building relationships. As a result, these relationships lead to sales in an indirect kind of a way. Writers of books are supposed to be experts on the subject matter in which they are writing. This means that writers can utilize other writing methods to help draw attention to their book without constantly talking about the book itself.

No matter what your area is, sharing insight on that topic helps to build trust and interest in people. Writing flash fiction or sharing excerpts helps people to get used to your voice and style, posting articles, news clips, and other things help people to understand your passion and focus as well. As a result, they’ll be interested to see what that book is about.

There’s no guarantee they will want to buy the book but a relationship has formed and relationships are what you want.

  • Special Offers

While your book is being read, you can also offer something exclusive in preparation for your books release. Let’s face it, everybody wants to be exclusive and official (lbs). Make people feel special by giving something away ahead of time. Though a pre-order of your book is nice (especially a signed hardcopy), try to do something different. Give away a small journal, amazon gift card or Starbucks gift card. Whatever it is, put some effort into it. Let your genuine love for the people shine through (people can tell if you’re just being phony because you want them to buy your book). If you give away a book, make it an exclusive super-duper official one. Make sure we know that only the best of the best can qualify for this baby here.

  • Book Cover Design

We’ll speak more about this next week, but this is a good time to get started on that book cover design!

Remember: Pre-Marketing is the first stage to business development. As an Indie Author, you are that business.

I know its not much, but I sure do hope that this information has been helpful. As always, I am following my own advice and am passing along information in my journey as I learn. I am always humbled at whomever wishes to join me.

Be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for more tips, updates on my upcoming projects, free excerpt chapters and articles not yet published to this blog, book promotions, and more.

Next– Let’s Paint the House!

Next, we’ll talk about decorating your brick house. 

Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.

Missed the first three episodes?

Laying Bricks Ep 1: Guide The Bricks

(About Focusing on the Story)

Laying Bricks Ep 2: Mortar

(About the Revision)

Laying Bricks Ep 3: Cutting The Excess

(About Editing)

Hot PBS Self-Publishing Topics to Date:


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 spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

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Self-Publishing – Laying Bricks Ep 2: Mortar

Laying Bricks(1)

“You cannot build your hopes upon unstable foundations and expect a product of longevity.”

– Audrey Prim,

Quote From heyygurrlheyy.wordpress.com

Sure, there are other things we’ll need to do: paint the walls, add furniture, and hire professionals but not now, not while laying bricks.

Execution is vital in going from an idea to something that is actually tangible. Goals are great, but alone they’re not enough. Written down, they are merely plans. Plans are awesome. But a plan that is not backed by action becomes fruitless.  Laying bricks is excellent, but it is not enough. No, you can’t just write, sorry. I wish it was that easy. Wait, actually, it is!

It is if you take your time. If we are to build a strong house, there are other things that we must do with these bricks besides lay them. In our first unofficial episode, we spoke about focusing on one brick and how to lay it properly. We got through the laying part but if the brick is not held together, then the entire foundation is weak and the house will crumble.

Applying Mortar – Revisions and Feedback

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Writing the story is important. It is your guide, your first brick. But we have all lived long enough to know that you can’t just stack bricks, you need something to hold them together. As much as we’d like to all just have fun, this is a business after all.

Safety Tip: When working with mortar, always wear gloves and a mask or respirator.

Before applying mortar, you’d need to protect yourself. This just means you’ll need to be prepared to battle self-doubt and rejection because this step requires revisions and feedback. If your first brick is the story, then how do you know if that story is any good? Surely we cannot depend on our own selves to determine the quality of work. I mean, are we brilliant? Yes, of course. But we are also too close to the work.

I’m not going to pretend your first draft isn’t everything, it is. It took lots of time and research. It is everything, but it’s not EVERYTHING! See how exciting the last everything was? First drafts are like the play-dough you just want to play with and get all “authorly” and say stuff like “yaasss”. However, we can’t just give readers dough now can we? We have to mold it into something and to do this properly, you’ll need a little bit of help.

Discover the tools you need to apply a generous amount of feedback to each layer of the brick. This may require:

  1. Beta Readers
  2. Advanced Review Readers
  3. Writing Critique Groups
  4. Facebook Writer Groups

Click Here for 40 Places to Find a Critique Partner

Who Will Help You Improve Your Writing

I know. It sounds funny speaking about revisions so early on. The truth is that no first draft is ready to be published. The truth is that your manuscript will need revisions. But, how do you know what needs to be revised?

The job of these people listed is to provide constructive feedback. When it came time to participate in The Curiouser Author Society’s Critique day, whew! Nervous is not the word, I was terrified. However, when I finally did upload my novel’s first chapter and allowed this group of people to read it, I was pleasantly surprised. It was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Sure, I thought it was good but could I really depend on my own critique? Not really. Now that others read it and provided feedback I knew it was good. Granted, it wasn’t great (at this stage you don’t get to great yet… there were things I needed to fix), but I was confident that it wasn’t poor either which boosted my confidence as a writer. I’m telling you from experience, it is enough fuel to finish the book indeed!

Here are a few things to look for during revision:

  • Contradictions  – Usually writers start off strong in the beginning but then you get to the end and its like, “Where they do that at?” Look for contradictions in your characters behaviors or setting or anything. Is she wearing red shoes? I thought she hated red tho? Stuff like that.
  • Flow and Pace – If you skip it, chances are it needs to be skipped.
  • Destroy – I’ll speak more on this in the next episode but it is part of the revision process. To fix some things means you have to break it down to build it up. So if the shoe fits, yeah, some parts of your story will need to be utterly destroyed. Recently, I just had to cut an entire chapter from my WIP. Ouch.
  • One Thing at a Time – So is the whole point of this series. We’re not focused on the in depth stuff. In this series we’re focusing on the basics. When you perfect the basics you can build upon what you build. On the other hand, without a strong foundation none of the other stuff will matter. So, back to it. Revise in stages, fixing one thing at a time. Don’t rush. Remember, this is  a process. We’re not building a straw house. We’re building  a brick house.
  • Show and Tell – Check for moments you told instead of showed and vice verse. I won’t elaborate here since I plan to publish a separate post on it, but just be sure you understand the difference between telling vs. showing. Personally, I think good writers show and tell. There’s an ongoing debate in the writing world about Showing vs. Telling but here’s the secret: don’t show us everything! As a result of the show vs. tell debate authors are now showing us everything but their booty cheeks. That’s not what show vs. tell means and makes the story sound just as boring as my example. It’s called Storytelling for a reason. You are supposed to tell a story. The difference is in balancing the amount of telling and showing. Straight action doesn’t work no more than no action. Your characters just can’t be running all over the place, they need quite, emotional times too.
  • Grammar / Punctuation – This is last not because its not important. It’s just that this goes more into the next episode. But, there are still mistakes you can catch during your revision you may not have seen before. Especially those caught by your betas.

Sure, everyone’s opinions are just that, opinions. Additionally, opinions vary for each person. Still, it helps to have an extra set of eyes to validate some things for you as you revise your script. If you think you can really do it all yourself, then maybe you are not ready to build a house. (Ever watched those home reconstruction shows? Do you see how much work that is? Now, imagine one person doing it. Sheesh). The extra set of eyes are not to dictate your script, change the vision, or slam your work.

The extra eyes are just to help you along the revision process before you go in for the edit. So, “butter” that brick with mortar by recruiting additional sets of eyes to read your manuscript. They may be useful in locking each brick into place and to release any unnecessary plot bubbles that may be underneath all the glitter and glam.

Next– Removing Excess

Next, we’ll talk about removing the excess in your Self-Pub brick laying process. Find out what to do when you get your scripts back from readers. After you’ve gotten the book critiqued, now what? Stay Tuned.

Be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for more tips, updates on my upcoming projects, free excerpt chapters and articles not yet published to this blog, book promotions, and more.

Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.

Missed the first episode? See Laying Bricks Ep 1: Guide The Bricks


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 spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

Self-Publishing – Ep 1 Laying Bricks

My husband and I would like to build our own home one day. Building your own home can be one of the most exciting projects you can undertake. It can also be one of the most frustrating projects. Though rewarding, actually getting to the point of building can take many years to accomplish. However, breaking the process down into smaller pieces can make things go a lot smoother. Saving money, building credit, learning the proper ways to find a location, designing the home, acquiring the correct permits, tools, equipment, and breaking ground. By the time you actually start to build the house many years have passed. Self-Publishing is in many ways just the same. Before you build a house, you have to lay the bricks. Masonry, like Self-Publishing, isn’t a simple task but with the right tools, it can run smoothly.

When I step back and look at the publishing industry as a whole and all of the information that is out there, I want to scream. OK, maybe not scream. I’m not a screaming person, but I do want to pull out a few locs.

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It actually makes me happy to know that I knew none of this when I first started writing. Why? I probably would not have chosen to publish a book, let alone self-publish it. The truth is in most of our lives we are blinded from the full picture of the vision in order to a). ensure we will step outside of our comfort zones and b). grow into the person who can achieve said goal. Let’s face it, 15-50% of people are introverted. According to Best Selling Author of Quite: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, former corporate lawyer and self-professed introvert Susan Cain defines introverts as people who “like more quiet, less stimulating environments”.

In other words, Introverts are people who are shy and prefer not to be around lots of people (Although many argue shyness is not really introversion, let’s just keep it simple shall we? Let’s just say that shyness is a kind of introversion, whereas the individual responds differently to outside stimulation, particularly socially). In short, it’s easy for most of us to get overwhelmed with all of the constantly changing information out there. Sometimes it’s stressful just thinking about it. But then there is something we’re all forgetting: It is all a process.

If you don’t realize the small progressions in your life, how can you ever see the larger ones? If you don’t celebrate each small moment, how can you get to the greater ones?

If you try to look at this as an entire piece, you’ll never get anywhere, for no one ever moved a mountain all at once. Trying to follow everyone’s advice and stay up to date on every piece of information is not only bad strategy, but it will also wear you out. Instead, focus on one brick and how to lay it properly. Then focus on another one and another and another…you get the point. Sure, hubby and I would love to build a house but first we have to purchase land. Before we purchase land, we have to get approved for loans. At this stage, I am not designing a house and picking out decorations. Right now we’re focused on building credit and saving money.

Guide The Bricks – Write The Story

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Technically, your first brick is the Author Platform (a piece of land in which you’ve already established in which to build on), but I have decided not to talk about that today. There are already a gazillion posts, articles, and experts far more knowledgeable than I already talking their heads off about Author Platforms. However, if you can’t engage an audience your platform will falter. Your personality, area of expertise (which is what your books are built on), and ability to engage people is a big part of the platform building process. We have to give readers what they want and what they want is good stories. All of this starts with your skill set as a writer. Many authors have to get a few books under their belt before their platform really starts to blossom. This means your first brick is not the platform. Your first brick is really the story.

When writing the book, focus on doing it right. Block yourself out from all of the noise going on around you. Tempting, yes, but at the end of the day book publishing is about the story. If you can’t write a story that people will want to read, then you my friend do not have a career. Research is great at this stage of the process but try to limit it to research that’s going to help your story. Read books A LOT and look into information that deals with the construction of a story. Look into how to show and not tell, build a story arc, perfect character development, setting, etc. (Yes, I use etc. when I’ve ran out of things to say. Why else?) A mason’s line acts as a guide for setting bricks in perfectly straight rows. This is your story. A writer’s ability to capture an audience is what builds an audience! It sets things in motion and acts as a guide to the other important steps further along in the process.

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So far in the poll, many of you stated you’d like to receive more Self-Pub tips from The PBS Blog which was humbling for little ole me. As someone who is still learning, I am honored that you’d want to hear more of my ramble. Anywho, this was followed by Black History, and Life Tips / Inspirational. I am excited because these are some great categories!

I am in the process of introducing some new things here that I hope you’d love. First, a series called Laying Bricks. In it, we’ll discuss how to take the Self-Publishing world on, one brick at a time by focusing on perfecting the basics.

Next– The Mortar

Next, we’ll talk about the mortar aspect of your Self-Pub brick laying process. After you’ve written the book, now what? Stay Tuned.

Be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for more tips, updates on my upcoming projects, free excerpt chapters and articles not yet published to this blog, book promotions, and more.

Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.

In Case You Missed It: Popular PBS Self-Pub Tips:


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 spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.