None of us can deny the power of social media to impact businesses, big and small. As we’ve seen repeatedly, what we post to our accounts can have positive and negative real-life effects, destructive and groundbreaking. With it, we can reach people worldwide without leaving the house. It is no longer just about posting family photos. People are making real money and establishing real connections.
However, an over reliance on social media to hold up the core of our business can prove disastrous since we do not own them. Lately, I have heard many complaints of Instagram pages being hacked, Facebook jail, and TikTok suspensions.
And these are not complaints from people with small accounts. People with tens of thousands of followers have had to start from zero.
People who operate systematically, moving their tribe (those genuinely interested in their content because everyone isn’t), over to their own platforms, do not lose when their accounts are hacked or when IG decides to glitch.
They do not lose because they understand a basic principle:
Social Media is the vehicle, not the destination.
Social Media is a powerful tool for socializing and networking with your target audience. Still, you want to always be moving them along your funnel.
This looks like adding them to your blog, email/text list, website, or membership site.
To do this, use a call-to-action at the end of your posts to tell people what you want them to do.
The call-to-action or CTA is when you give your people direction. What do you want us to do after seeing your post?
Do you want us to visit your website by clicking the link in your bio?
Do you want us to leave a comment? Are you asking for feedback?
Do you want us to buy something? Are you having a Black Friday sale?
The goal is to avoid getting too comfortable with the followers you get from these social media platforms. Only some people following you are interested in what you have to offer. You can ensure they know where to find you outside Instagram and Facebook. This allows you to nourish relationships and build stronger bonds with those who care.
In a matter of seconds, your thousands of followers can be gone if someone hacks you or your account is deleted for whatever reason.
Protect yourself by establishing an online home.
Indie Author Basics simplifies and streamlines the Self-Publishing Process so authors can Self-Publish high-quality books without pulling out their hair.
Editing is first for several reasons, one being that I can’t get the book formatted before it has been properly edited. I determine my production schedule on the date the book comes back from editing.
2. Digital and Print Formatting
Now that the book has been edited, it can be formatted for digital and print. Formatting for digital ensures that it flows properly when you read it on your kindle, phone, and other e-devices.
Print formatting is vital to ensure the intended finished size of the book is how I want it. The most common size is 6×9 for a standard paperback. Poetry books tend to be smaller, 5×8, and workbooks are larger, maybe 8×10.
When I published my first poetry book, I chose 8×10. Imagine a poetry book the size of the 8×10 picture on your wall. Yes, it was a mess.
Oh, and Microsoft Word will not take care of your book formatting for you. Converting an MS word document to PDF and uploading it as is, is why many Self-Published books look messy and all over the place on digital devices. It can also make the printed book look poorly done, such as having too much spacing that makes your novel look like a College Essay. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about.
Don’t skip on formatting. How your book looks inside is important.
3. Professional Cover Design
Technically, the cover can be worked on as the book is being edited. A finished cover can be used to help promote the book if it’s done early and even kick off early preorders.
However, there’s a reason cover art is not right under editing.
To complete the entire cover (front, back, and spine), the artist needs the exact number of pages and the book’s trim size. Usually, the number of pages changes after formatting. Also, some books are too thin for a spine. If I give him/her the wrong size, it can affect how the book prints, and then I’ll have to get it redone, which can cost more money.
While I can get away with a finished cover, I cannot complete the full artwork before steps one and two are accomplished.
As you can see, I have a strategic reason for publishing in this order.
4. Buy / Assign ISBN
I buy ISBNs in bulk, so this part is usually already done. If it’s not, this is around the time I get them.
5. Upload Files to KDP / Ingram Spark / Draft2Digital
This part requires its own post to fully explain. I’ll do my best to keep it short but clear.
I publish with Kindle Direct Publishing and Ingram. KDP for Amazon and Ingram for wholesale distribution to bookstores and libraries.
How it works is I upload my files to KDP per usual, but I DO NOT select expanded distribution. The reason is that if you are making your title available in both self-publishing systems, that makes the title available to Ingram and will cause a conflict with the ISBN when you upload it into IngramSpark.
Although Amazon works with Ingram, publishing with Ingram separately makes it easier for your book to be ordered by bookstores. And bookstores hate Amazon, by the way. The thought of carrying a book published by Amazon gets their blood boiling. That’s another reason it’s good to have your own ISBN. It can make it easier for the store to carry your print-on-demand title without being distracted by the fact it was published independently by Amazon.
After publishing with Amazon, I go through the process of uploading my files to Ingram Spark.
If step three was not done properly, this is the part I can get stuck on. The cover must match the size of the book and the artist must provide a single PDF file that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image.
Lastly, I upload my files to draft2digital for distribution to all online retailers, from B&N, to Kobo, to iTunes.
6. Order Proof Book
Order the proof copy of the book from Amazon and Ingram. Check for errors.
7. Start Production Schedule / Publish Book
Now that the book is complete, I can kick off the production schedule.
The Women with Blue Eyes:Rise of the Fallen is live!
When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.
“Paschar walked with confidence and held her head high as she moved her hips from side to side. Red was her most favorite color to wear with this skin. Something about the hue against this dark body is so different from her true form and more comfortable to navigate the Earth. Who wanted to be invisible to humans when it was easier to seduce them in the skin of a beautiful black woman? Passersby, men and women alike, looked, and Paschar smiled. They always stared. Humans were fascinated by blue, crystal pupils against such brown, creamy skin. In real life, Pas thought human bodies were disgusting. She hated the soft, gooeyness of the flesh, how it bruised and bled so quickly, how it fell apart and crumbled with each passing day. She hated the rotting meat on the bone, but she did come to love dark skin tones. Other pigments didn’t make her heart beat like melanin.”
– From Chapter 7, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen
We sold out of signed paperbacks on the site, but no worries! You can still order a paperback from Amazon. The next round of signed copies will be restocked soon! Be sure to bookmark my website below so you don’t miss it!
Introduce Yourself is back! Please help me extend a warm welcome to Edgar Rider. Welcome to the PBS Blog!
What is your name and where are you from?
Edgar Rider, originally from Scottsdale, Arizona, moved to Riverside, California.
Nice. Are you employed outside of writing?
I work in education as a paraprofessional for a High School in Special Ed.
Cool beans. What job do you think you’d be really good at?
Creativity in organizing creative events, and writing educational content.
Any siblings Edgar?
What was your childhood dream?
The first dream was to be a detective, and then I just wanted to be in some creative field where I could use creativity.
What skill do you think you’ve mastered?
Creativity. Coming up with innovative ideas. Writing about Abstract subject matter in an understandable, relatable, and universal fashion. Created tunnel performance society to help others express themselves.
What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
A trip to Amsterdam. It has a reputation as a place where all bets are off. I would like to explore an uninhibited place.
What’s your favorite drink?
Nothing beats a PBR.
Pabst Blue Ribbon is a beer. It is relatively cheap and is the main drink at a pub I go to called TT Roadhouse.
Got it. What songs have you completely memorized?
Neil Diamond Hello Again and The Doors Monlight Drive.
What’s your favorite color?
Blue and yellow combination.
Let’s talk about writing a bit. When did you publish your first book?
I just published it, and it is a great feeling. Riding Out The Kipling Effect is about an experience me and a friend had living in a ladies’ living room for a year.
Oh, wow, lol.
We gave up our respective apartments to save money to concentrate on writing. Carrie Kipling was the tenant, and she lived in a chaotic turmoil-filled world used by moocher friends. The book is about trying to stay committed to a specific creative purpose while overcoming outside challenges. Some of the major themes are relinquishing control, overcoming obstacles, and at certain moments being able to trust in the experience.
It has been a long road, so getting this book out is a big accomplishment.
Who is your favorite writer?
James Thurber. He wrote about ordinary regular events but turned them into extraordinary experiences. Other stories are about dreaming of another kind of life—Secret Life of Walter Mitty and My Life and Hard Times.
If you could shadow your favorite artist, who would it be?
Alice Cooper. I was always a fan. He came up with a stage persona and took it in a particular direction—such a well-defined character. I would learn how to embody and be that person. I have my own alter ego Bob Eager.
I want to learn to become that character and be productive at presenting it for long periods.
Edgar? You’re scaring me lol. What kind of music do you like?
Rock music classic rock eighties rock.
What genre do you write in, why?
Memoir, Short story, Creative nonfiction, and poetry. Not sure why just my most expressive forms.
Okay. I love those genres! What takes up too much of your time?
I think you speak for us all.
What is the most thought-provoking book you’ve ever read?
Purple Cow. It is about coming up with an innovative idea that stands out, not playing it safe, really believing in ideas. It helped me develop tunnel performance society, an innovative environmental theatrical space where poets, musicians, and dancers can express themselves.
That’s cool. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
Editing is the most difficult for sure. Revision at some points, too, saying, “no, this is done.” Telling stories that have a narrative legacy that will last five-ten years from now, and making sure they are not rooted in contemporary culture.
If you had one superpower that could change the world, what would it be? Why?
Suspending Disbelief. Being able to create reality and make it more pleasing.
If you could, would you visit the past?
I would visit the past and try and help myself and others make their lives easier.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Find Purpose and go full throttle, eliminate distractions.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? What made it special?
Write in your own voice. I was young and in college, and it meant a lot to me to express how I was feeling.
I love it.
Thank you Edgar for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Edgar Rider has been working in education for over ten years, first as a Substitute Teacher. More recently, he has been a Paraprofessional for an elementary school and high school. Rider worked in a Children’s museum as a Playologist and was a Child advocate for a Domestic Violence shelter. He has published articles on educational topics such as Growth Mindset, Substitute Teaching, Autism, Time Management in a classroom, and how to use an Environmental Theater space.
About the Book
Life in Carrie Kipling’s apartment was a constant struggle. Kipling’s life was in a state of turmoil. Her group of friends consisted of moochers, liars, prostitutes, and convicted felons. Her decision-making process deteriorated over time and became even more dangerous as she let anyone she befriended control various aspects of her life. In this book, a narrative journey titled Riding Out The Kipling Effect, my friend Muller and I lived in Kipling’s living room for a year. What started as a strange situation spiraled out of control. We both wanted to become writers for a living and were willing to give up comfort, space, belongings, and even sanity to achieve our respective dreams.
We jumped from our apartments and ended up on a couch and in a chair and strapped ourselves along for the Kipling Effect’s roller coaster ride. Little did we realize that navigating through this would become the biggest challenge of our lives. The Downtown artistic scene, museums, and libraries also provide a backdrop of inspiration for this particular journey. The juxtaposition between the surrounding dive bars and the posh clubs and restaurants presents a peculiar atmosphere full of contrary subject matter ripe for a storytelling environment. Eventually, I learned that the Kipling Effect had positive ramifications and was the one necessary thing leading me down an essential path towards authentic self-discovery.
Please help me extend a warm welcome to Victoriyah Smith. Welcome to the PBS Blog!
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Victoria Smith (Victoriyah Israyl) and I am from Gulfport, Mississippi.
What was your childhood dream?
My childhood dream was to be able to travel to different countries around the world. I have been blessed to travel to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Belize, Progresso, Montego Bay, Cozumel, Key West, to name a few places. I enjoy learning new cultures and trying fresh foods as long as it is not pork or shellfish.
I feel you. I love traveling myself. Got a travel buddy? Married?
I am married to my wonderful, loving, supportive husband, Willie. We have shared this life together for 21 years.
Beautiful. Let’s talk about writing a bit. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
I published my first book on June 15, 2020, and it was a wonderful feeling.
Oh okayy. You new, new. Congratulations!
Thank you. It took a lot of work, time, and learning technical things to get it in the correct format for publishing; it was definitely a learning experience. I am now working on promoting my book as I work on writing my next book. I know the process will be more straightforward because of my first experience.
What do you love about yourself?
I love that I am a giver. I enjoy helping others and being a blessing to others who are not as fortunate as myself.
In your own words, what is humility?
Humility is being humble in my heart and my actions. Humility is the opposite of being puffed up and high minded. To walk in humility means to open yourself to understand the pain and disappointment of others. It is a welcoming approach to solving violence, anger, and aggression in relationships and society. Humility is being of no form or fashion, but existing in love and understanding as you seek to understand others when there is no peace. Humility is being as a little child.
I love that part about opening yourself up to understand the pain of others. Victoriyah, what is the best advice you’ve ever been given? What made it special?
My father gave me some wisdom as a young adult after I built my home. He was laying a new driveway for me, and I tried to pay him before he had finished the work. My father looked at me and asked, “Have you seen the finished product?” My answer was “No sir,” and then he said,” Never pay for a service in full until you’ve seen the finished product. Even if it’s your daddy.” Those simple words have been special in my life because it gave me the courage I needed to hold people accountable in business transactions as a young woman.
That’s awesome. Why is writing important to you?
Writing has always been an escape for me. When I became a Sunday school-teacher years ago, writing became a huge part of my life as I would write stories of the bible that would help my students to understand the scripture in a greater way. As I have continued my relationship with the Most High, writing has been a central focus of my meditations as I am being guided by my creator to unfold many truths about the bible. I hope that the truths that are written in my books will help others increase their belief in our creator Yah.
Life is not always pretty, as we all experience hardship now and again and this is magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. What is your best advice for reducing stress?
My advice for anyone experiencing hardship is to understand that there is a purpose for everything we experience. To find the meaning of life is to gain a relationship with our creator Yah and the Messiah Yahoshuah. I believe that by doing that, the Most High gives us understanding and direction in the path we should take in our lives. Pray to our creator Yah, cast all your burdens and troubles on him, and he will lift every burden (stress) and give you peace that surpasses all human understanding.
From the natural perspective, start a hobby, exercise, eat healthily, write more, and evaluate the decisions you are making and set goals to remove anything out of your life that may be causing stress. Our creator will give you the strength to remove those things through prayer.
Beautifully articulated. Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
I enjoy gardening. I grow my own cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, and peppers. I also have a passion for helping women become their own bosses by giving them the tools they need to succeed. In 2014, I established an organization to work toward that end. It is called “Network of Women Business Owners.” I also enjoy helping the less fortunate individuals in the community with clothes, food, and resources to help them overcome life’s challenges.
Thank you Victoriyah for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Born in Gulfport, Mississippi, Victoriyah received her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama and her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern Mississippi. Also, she obtained an associate’s degree in Business Management from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. With a passion for helping every inspiring woman become her own boss, Victoriyah shares her proven insights with diverse audiences through training, consulting services, workshops, seminars, and online platforms.
Mrs. Smith is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Network of Women Business Owners, a professional business network established in 2014 in Gulfport, Mississippi. Victoriyah resides in Gulfport, Mississippi, with her husband, Willie, and her (4) children and grandchildren live in Texas. She is available to conduct speeches and facilitate professional development training for professional women groups, organizations, and empowerment business events.
Introduce Yourself is back! Please help me extend a warm welcome to VALI BENSON. Vali, welcome to the PBS Blog!
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Vali Benson. I was born in Champaign, Illinois, the home of the University of Illinois. After graduating from U of I, I decided to go west to get away from the brutal winter weather. I now live in Tucson, AZ, where I am very happy with my husband, two sons, and grandchildren.
Brutal is right! I am from Chicago so you ain’t never lied there. Vali, got a favorite drink?
Iced tea is my favorite drink, but it has to be super sweet. When I am writing, I need my sweet iced tea. Oddly enough, I do not like ice in my iced tea, and I always chuckle when I hear someone refer to the drink as “Ice” tea. As far as cocktails are concerned, I love a spicy Bloody Mary.
Nice. Favorite food?
My favorite food is escargots. Growing up in Illinois, I would have never dreamed that I would say that, but I absolutely love them. The first time I had escargots was on my honeymoon, and the only reason I did it was that I didn’t want to appear unsophisticated to my new husband. Thank heaven I had no idea what they were at first, or else I would never have tried them.
Let’s talk about writing. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
My first book, Blood and Silver, was published on April 3, 2020. To be honest, it was surreal. I had completed a lifelong dream of putting my ideas and feelings into an actual book for others to consume. I was numb and excited. At the same time, it was extremely frightening because my innermost thoughts were now fair game for all to criticize. I still cannot believe that I can call myself a published author.
That is awesome. Congratulations and welcome to the world of publishing. That Blood and Silver cover is dope!
What genre do you write in, why?
I generally prefer to write young adult fiction. This is probably because that genre had such an impact on me as a girl. I was not the most confident child, so when I could read about fictional characters that were around my age, it made me feel secure. If my books can instill others with those valued feelings of pride, confidence, and acceptance, I know I will have done my job.
Wonderful. What do you wish you knew more about?
I dearly wish I was more tech-savvy. Computers and I have never really gotten along, but I am sad to say that I am being left behind by the changing times. The day has come when I have had to admit that technology no longer consists of luxury; it exists as a necessity. I better start swimming, or I’ll sink like a stone.
Do you have a favorite color Val?
Blue has always been my favorite color. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I have blue eyes, but I think it is because I am a believer in infinite possibilities. When I was a girl, there was nothing more infinite to me than the big bright blue sky.
Blue is a beautiful color. We love sharing historical fun facts on this blog. Who would you say is your favorite Historical figure?
Jacqueline Kennedy. She was so much more than just First Lady of the United States. Of all her accomplishments, it is her character that I admire most. The way she handled the traumatic events surrounding her husband’s death with the whole world staring at her still amazes me. Her grace, poise, and dignity amid unimaginable catastrophe is something all people, not just women, should aspire to emulate.
Beautifully articulated. What do you think of the world we live in?
The world we live in is truly what we make of it. It all depends on perspective. I choose to be positive and focus on what I cherish in my life and not worry about the elements that are out of my control. One factor to remember is that advancements around our world might change, but people and human nature do not.
What don’t you like about yourself?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have let others’ opinions affect me more than they should. I do not like that I put so much stock in what others think of me. The great thing is, I am getting better at only worrying about how I view myself.
What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?
I love so many funny movies, and comedies are my favorite genre. But one that sticks out to me is Tropic Thunder from 2008. The performances are completely hilarious, and the writing is pure genius, but the film always conjures good vibes. The first time I saw Tropic Thunder, I really needed some cheering up, and it did exactly that. Plus, a bald Tom Cruise in a fat suit always cracks me up!
What is the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
Have low expectations for yourself so you won’t be disappointed.
I’ve heard that one before too…
I understand, in theory, what the person was trying to convey, and they meant well, but the advice was directed at my own performance. It gave me the feeling that no matter what I did, it would not be good enough, so why even try. The adage goes, “If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will either.” It was a long time before I believed in myself due to this piece of warped advice.
Thank you Valie for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion for writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine, before she decided to try her hand at fiction. She grew up in the Midwest and now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons, and two grandchildren.
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.