By now, we know how important it is to have a dope book cover for our Self-Published book.
But it’s not always the book cover that gives a book away that it’s Self-Published. Sometimes, how the book looks inside makes it look homemade.
Typesetting: the spacing between words and letters, the font type & size, the page’s trim size, margin, and overall layout.
Grab a book that has been traditionally published (or professionally Self-Published!) and look over the pages. Take note of how it appears on the inside. Look at how tidy the words are! How are the left and right edges aligned, the typefaces are the same, and the paragraph spacing is perfect?
This is the result of expert typesetting.
Many Self-Publishers skip this stage. We don’t realize it because we submit the Word or PDF file we used to compose the book to our preferred print-on-demand.
But what’s wrong with that?
There is nothing wrong with that, except our manuscripts do not print exactly as we type them in Word, Google Docs, or Scrivener. The document requires proper typesetting and formatting for print and digital devices like Kindles and Tablets.
The cover of your book may suffer from a poorly formatted book. Take a look at book two in The Stella Trilogy, first edition.
I actually like the initial cover image. The problem is with the rest of the book.
Do you notice how the spine is twisted? Because the book was too short to have a spine, this occurred. Giving it one, nonetheless caused it to wrap around and face the front.
I didn’t realize the book needed more pages for a full spine because I’m not a graphic artist or skilled book cover designer.
While this cover image doesn’t pop as well as the first (IMO), the book is professionally bound. The alternate ending made the book long enough for a spine in the revised edition. The book features a more professional cover, professional formatting, and professional editing.
Recommendation. Before having your entire cover designed, wait until your book has been edited and properly typeset. Your graphic artist will require the precise number of pages and trim size to create a cover, back, and spine that perfectly matches the book.
Moral. Before hitting publish, make sure to hire a skilled typesetter to correct the placement of your text on the page.
If you want to try it yourself, here are some sources:
Reedsy Book Editor
Vellum *Fiverr. Note: Professional typesetters can be found on websites like Fiverr. Make sure they are typesetting rather than just typography, though. Typefaces and other decorative elements make up typography. That’s not typesetting. Additionally, if they are only using Vellum, you can do it on your own by simply purchasing it.
Since we live in a capitalist society, money is the first thing we think about when wanting to go places or do something, and if we don’t have the money, we become hopeless.
And I get it. You need money for everything. Not even a charity can run without funding. What kind of society makes it so you can’t even help people without money?
However, there are two other things we have that can make things easier:
Many people ask me about my self-publishing journey, and I can tell you it has been challenging. Nothing about self-publishing is easy, even now. However, what has made it easier is my connections with other people.
When we first moved to Georgia, my husband and I visited the Nubian bookstore in Morrow. Every two weeks or so, we would buy books until we developed a relationship with the owner Marcus. As two nerds, we had no other agenda but to buy as many books as our wallets could afford and our arms could carry.
Two months later, I asked Marcus how I could get my own books into his store. (It had not occurred to me before then.)
To my surprise, we worked out a consignment deal on the spot and put my books on the shelf.
Then, he told me about the Medu Bookstore in Atlanta and referred me to Nia. I submitted I am Soul, which had to go through a review process.
This is why…editing.
A couple weeks later, I got the call that I had passed the review board, and just like that, I was in two bookstores.
While hosting a book signing, I met a guy who told me there was a Barnes and Noble that accepts self-published books. He said I should check it out. I did, and a few moves later, I was in B&N.
Of all the advice I’ve ever given, this is probably the most important:
Building genuine connections and relationships with people can take you places money won’t.
It will allow you to skip steps you would otherwise have taken.
Once I am Soul passed the review board, The Women with Blue Eyes didn’t have to go through them to get on the shelves because they trusted me to deliver high-quality work.
In this season, instead of mindlessly scrolling social media, consider ways of leveraging your connections for more growth.
Title: Relentlessly Resilient: Overcoming the Resistance Author: Monique Johnson Publisher: Monique Johnson Published: July 4, 2022 Pages: 193
In Relentlessly Resilient, the author gives us an unflinching look at her life as a young woman enduring trial after trial and her resolve to overcome all the hurdles thrown her way. Seduced by the cute, play-boy, roughneck types, Monique learns the hard way that looks can deceive when a boy she falls for forces himself on her.
From the trauma of sexual assault, becoming a young mother, battling diabetes, and much more, this book kicks into gear quickly, starting with a series of tumultuous relationships, including dating a guy who had become addicted to drugs. I grew up around many addicts in the projects, including my parents, so I know their ways and could empathize with how she felt about the disappearing acts and stolen TV.
When she went to get the stolen bike back from the dealer, I was yelling at the book at this point. Girl, what are you doing? But nothing happened, to which the author credits her faith. The dealer actually gave her the bike back. Whew. That was close.
I enjoyed the author’s candor when discussing her thought patterns during these challenging times and talking us through the lessons she learned. One of the most important ones involved her son, Tyrell. Although she was working hard and providing for her son’s needs physically, she projected the stress she took on onto him every time she yelled at him to get ready or couldn’t spend time with him because of her busy schedule.
Relentlessly Resilient is a story I believe we can all relate to on some level. At the end of each chapter, the author shares a reflection as a final touch.
Monique’s story is a reminder of the strength of the human spirit. Constantly thrown through life’s curveballs, the author always recovers quickly and regains her strength.
People don’t tell new Indie Authors that publishing a book does not mean people will buy it. That is why the moment you decide you are writing your book must be the moment you also start building your community.
Building a reader community is important because it is the first step toward getting your book noticed by the people who want to read it.
Put plainly: when you focus on connecting with people, you attract a tribe of people ready and excited to buy your book when it drops.
This is critical for Indie Authors, in particular, who do not always have access to the same kind of exposure as authors who publish with publishing houses or small presses with bigger budgets.
No, people will not buy your book just because you posted the link.
No, people will not buy your book just because you’re their favorite cousin.
And no, people will not buy your book because you tell them to.
Please also consider that even if your favorite cousin does buy your book, it doesn’t guarantee that they will:
Actually read the book
Review the book
Join your email list
Subscribe to your blog
Engage with your social media
Be repeat customers
Your real tribe, primarily strangers interested in what your book is about turned avid readers you have built a relationship with, will move differently than the family members you are begging to buy from you.
Here are some things you can do to help find your tribe :
Share your writing process.
Give updates on where you are in that process (draft, revisions, editing)
Talk about your inspirations and motivations
Talk about your challenges
Post excerpts from the book to social media
Start a blog
Start building your email list
Educate people about the book you are writing
Share the book cover when it’s ready
Talk about life outside of books and writing. What are your other interests?
Talk about your favorite books and authors
I agree. Building community is not about working tirelessly trying to convince people to read your book who would rather spend that $5 at Starbucks. That’s exhausting and is the frustration of many Indie Authors. That’s that pulling teeth part of the game everyone hates. Suppose building your community feels like you are pulling teeth. In that case, it is probably because you are begging people to support you who are not interested. Do them and yourself a favor and let them go in peace.
What it is about, as Jenn stated, is letting the people already interested in your book know it exists.
I am not trying to get people who are not poetry readers to read my poetry book to put this into perspective. That is not to say I won’t convert some people (tee hee). Still, I am looking for people who are already into poetry, black poetry by black women to be precise.
By sharing our likes, dislikes, challenges, and experiences and connecting with people of like mind, we find people with similar interests as our own. Then, we make the added effort to show up in the places where these people may hang out so we can connect with them on or offline. Maybe your tribe is on Facebook a lot. Maybe they are on YouTube, Instagram, Clubhouse, Twitter, and so on.
It’s 2022, and Indie Publishing has come a long way. Gone are the days of posting links to social media hoping someone will bite. This is known as “Hope Marketing,” or the hope for a sale. This doesn’t help us build community, sell books, or establish meaningful relationships.
Focusing on people who are already into what you are writing will have a tribe of people waiting to buy your next book and save you a lot of time and heartache.
Remember, it is much easier to market to an already interested audience than an audience who you have to convince.
And most important of all, have fun!
Connecting with people is not supposed to be tedious. Building a reader community doesn’t have to feel like work. That takes the fun out of it. Just be yourself and share your journey. The people who are meant to be part of that journey will notice.
The MacLeans have suffered being thrown off their land, emigrating to the New World, surviving in the forest wilderness, and losing their father Gillan in a bizarre murder. Now, ten years later, the two youngest emigrants will split the family across an ocean.
Sheena pursues a future back in Scotland with her husband Gordon Lamont. Alisdair dreams of university and a chance to reform the political system in the colony that denied him justice for his father’s death.
But the British Empire of the 1830s has yet more obstacles to throw in their path. When the only school in the province only accepts Anglican students, what will Alisdair do? When Sheena finds herself in a role of authority over families like her own, how will she cope with the isolation?
And when both their hopes of peace and stability are dealt a telling blow, how will they stay true to their fighting spirit?
STORM WRACK & SPINDRIFT is a dramatic story of family survival and personal struggle set against social upheaval. While voter enfranchisement was advancing in London, and slavery finally outlawed in the Empire, the tiny stage of rebellion in a backwoods colony farm could still have deep repercussions. Every life is precious, every decision important–which is why the early struggle for Responsible Government and other civil liberties continues to encourage us today.
I enjoyed reading about the MacLean family, especially since the author did an excellent job transporting readers to the era of the 1830s. The descriptions and dialect are authentic, and any lover of historical fiction would enjoy the natural flow of reading. I enjoyed the back-and-forth between Sheena’s experiences in Scotland and Alisdair’s challenges with the family on the farm.
I sympathized with his conflict with wanting to study law but not wanting to leave the family who needed his help. The characters are undoubtedly the stars of this book. I love children, so I am fond of Mairi and her bond with Grannie. They are so sweet together, and even though Neil (Mairi’s dad) is sad, the author does an excellent job portraying his misery. Speaking of grief, prepare yourself. This book has its moments.
I was glad to hear about the Slavery Abolition Act, which ended slavery in most British territories and freed over 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, South Africa, and a small number of people in Canada. It received Royal Assent on August 28, 1833, and took effect on August 1, 1834. (Henry, 2020) The government compensated slave owners for the value lost from freeing enslaved people, and the character Sheena was not having it.
“And is there any proposed fund for the slaves, since by abolishing slavery, we admit we had no right to own other people in the first place?”
“No, of course not.”
I liked the detail about Rhoda, Sheena, and Gordan’s widowed housekeeper participating in abolitionist demonstrations and the mention of Wilberforce’s death. William Wilberforce, a British politician, philanthropist, and pioneer of the anti-slavery movement, died in 1833. By describing Rhoda’s relationship with Wilberforce in detail and illustrating how his death affected her, the author was able to relate Wilberforce to the family on a personal basis.
While I enjoyed this story, for me, it cannot be read as a standalone novel as marketed. As the third book in the series, I felt a bit lost initially because it felt like something was missing, such as everything leading up to the MacLean’s family’s life on the farm.
The epilogue is intriguing, and I wonder if the author would consider adding another book to the series, possibly centered on the experiences of Mairi.
Title: Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life
Author: Dr. Thomas Jordan, Ph.D
Print Length: 132 pages
Publisher: Book Baby
Publication Date: December 16, 2019
In Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life, clinical psychologist Dr. Thomas Jordan Ph.D., outlines several ways couples can improve their love lives. He shows from a “psychological blueprint” how those previous experiences of love have shaped our current understanding in relationships going as far back as birth. He uses his personal life experience to show how what we learn in our family “shapes our experience of interpersonal reality when we become adults.” (Jordan, 92) Dr. Jordan challenges readers to identify what they’ve learned, challenge what they’ve learned, and then try something new. As you can tell, Dr. Thomas’ explanations are easy-to-understand, and his examples are clear and concise.
One of the most important points he makes is about learned beliefs, behavior, and feelings. Jordan asserts, for example, that if what we’ve learned about love was unhealthy growing up, we will unknowingly, somewhat subconsciously, repeat what was unhealthy in our adult relationships. The key here is what you believe about love relationships will shape your experience. Suppose someone taught you to think relationships are dishonest because you experienced dishonesty growing up. If you are not aware of this learned belief and have not made changes, chances are your current relationships will recreate dishonesty and generate a feeling that someone is deceptive.
This same thing can apply if you’ve felt Abandonment (loss), Exploitation (used), Abuse (fearful), Mistrust (suspicious), Controlled (trapped), Neglect (deprived), Dependency (needy), and Rejection (rejected). According to Dr. Jordan, these are among the ten unhealthy traits we learn and unconsciously recreate in our love relationships if we have not healed from them. Another critical detail Dr. Jordan makes is about how we become defensive to avoid being vulnerable.
It is the vulnerability that allows people to get to know us better because we have let them “in.” People shy away from opening up in this way because one cannot be vulnerable without risking unintentional hurt from time to time. What is meant by “unintentional?” There will inevitably be differences between you and the person you are in a relationship with, disagreements, different perspectives, opinions, etc. These differences are inevitable. There is no escaping it. According to Dr. Thomas, one cannot be in love without feeling unintentional hurt based on differences.
So then, why is “falling in love” worth it? Dr. Thomas has an interesting answer: Because we all have a natural ability to heal. The risk of falling in love is more tolerable and less stressful when we believe in our innate ability to heal. “If hurt leads to loss, we can grieve, heal our hearts, and move on.” (Jordan, 55)
We can avoid pain altogether by not opening up, but being defensive in relationships interferes with our ability to give and receive love. Dr. Thomas notes that love as an emotion is unpredictable and uncontrollable; hence, we “fall in love,” the connotation is that we have lost control. Because of losing control, we risk getting hurt. We avoid this hurt in attempting to achieve a love relationship without being vulnerable, which is not possible.
“Vulnerability is the emotional experience that shows you are open to giving and receiving love.” – Dr. Thomas Jordan
This understanding took me back to the 80/20 rule. It is a lot to expect to receive 100% good from one person because we all have trauma and baggage from our life experiences we carry with us. Even in an emotionally healthy and stable individual, you still might only get 80% of what you consider beautiful traits, if that. Can you live with that person’s twenty percent, or is this person’s twenty percent unbearable/intolerable? Based on your conscious awareness of your own flaws and strengths, combined with their weaknesses and strengths, what can you realistically tolerate in a love relationship? What flaws can you live with (accept)?
My only issue with this book is the opening section detailing what the book would be about. I found it unnecessary and thought the author would do well to jump right in. However, the author made up for it with the breakdown of healthy relationship experiences at the end! I think that tied things up well. These healthy traits are the opposite of the unhealthy list I mentioned earlier: Attachment, Respect, Freedom, Independence, Honesty, Consideration, Trust, Devotion, Acceptance, and Intimacy.
Anyone, single or married, disappointing love life or not, can learn how to heal by learning to love themselves, starting with being consciously aware of toxic patterns.
The inspiration for today’s topic comes from a heated discussion ongoing from an episode of The Real. The Real is a talk show that prides itself on being centered on discussions on current events, fashion, family, relationships, and celebrity news. The show’s host includes Jeannie Mai, Adrienne Bailon, Tamera Mowry-Housely, Loni Love, and now Amanda Seals. The show’s hook is presenting real topics, having real discussions, and giving very real opinions. But some audiences do not find the show to be as authentic as it prides itself to be and Loni’s comments don’t help.
Co-host Loni Love found herself in some hot water over her comments about Black men, cheating, and slavery. Here is a clip of what was said:
Whether you agree with Loni or not her comment opened the door for further discussion on this topic. I would like to use it as the catalyst for exploring what relationships were like for enslaved men and women and if there is any truth in Loni’s statement.
Questions to ponder as you read:
Should we isolate Black men as cheaters who use money and power to take advantage of women?
Is it fair to use slavery to support the theory that Black men, in particular, have a problem being faithful in relationships?
Are we descendants of slaves? Or are we descendants of people who were enslaved?
Family separation became increasingly common during the antebellum period and being sold on the New Year was a common occurrence. Widely known as “Hiring Day” — or “Heartbreak Day,” as the Black abolitionist journalist William Cooper Nell described it — enslaved people spent New Year’s Eve waiting, wondering if their owners would rent them out to someone else, which would split up their families. (Waxman, O, 2019) “Hiring Day” was part of the larger economic cycle in which most debts were collected and settled on New Year Day,” says Alexis McCrossen, an expert on the history of New Year Eve and New Year Day and a professor of history at Southern Methodist University, who writes about Hiring Day in her forthcoming book Time’s Touchstone: The New Year in American Life.
Enslaved people were bought and sold like cattle and auctioneers appraised women based on their ability to reproduce. Women who birthed children during slavery were called “breeders,” and their children were referred to as the “increase.” The mother and father of the “increase,” could have been a legitimate couple or they could have been forced together.
Black people were not people in this sense, they were commodities. Their bodies had a price tag. Slave-masters/owners could mortgage, loan, trade, or exchange the enslaved body. “The nature of exchanging enslaved people meant that this seller was open to the idea of getting them back, perhaps after the child reached a certain age and the mother was no longer breastfeeding.” (Berry, D, pp 20)
Enslaved men, women, and children incurred interest and even in death the enslaved body was traded and sold, many of them ending up on the tables of medical schools for hands-on medical research. Slave farms existed, where Black men and women were raped and forced to have sex with one another. The South,” writes Sublettes, co-author of The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry “did not only produce tobacco, rice, sugar, and cotton as commodities for sale; it produced people.”
“Because slaves were property, Southern slave owners could mortgage them to banks and then the banks could package the mortgages into bonds and sell the bonds to anyone anywhere in the world, even where slavery was illegal. Thomas Jefferson bragged to George Washington that the birth of black children was increasing Virginia’s capital stock by four percent annually.”
– The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry
Enslaved couples were not married or in a relationship in the same way men and women are married or in a relationship today. Since this is a private area of the enslaved life, it’s difficult for historians to say for certain how these relationships worked or did not work.
“Research into the intimate areas of slaves’ lives has proven problematic for historians because the typicality of private sentiments is always hard to establish, and within slave testimony such as the WPA narratives, the reference to issues of marital discord, abuse, or adultery is rare.”
Emily West(2004)Tensions, tempers, and temptations: marital discord among slaves in antebellum South Carolina,American Nineteenth Century History,5:2,1-18,DOI: 10.1080/1466465042000257837
What we know is that it was illegal for Blacks to marry in the traditional sense, that many of them were forced together for breeding, and that some enslaved couples did not live on the same plantation. There’s something else we know: due to the complex and brutal system of slavery, relationship bonds between black men and women (that weren’t forced or instituted by the slave owner) were strong. “Marital ties created bonds that warrant attention equal to the bonds of motherhood.” (Berry)
Enslaved couples who married under slavery loved each other deeply because there was no guarantee they wouldn’t be sold away from one another. The story of Tamar, an enslaved woman from Camden County, North Carolina, ran away several times, was sold several times, and had her children sold multiple times. According to her brother’s testimony, Tamar “traveled by night, and hid herself in the woods.” (Berry) While in hiding she had more children with her husband. Pregnancy, in this case, could have resulted from genuine love and marital affairs.
In The “Chords of Love: Legalizing Black Marital and Family Rights in Postwar Texas” Crouch tells the story of Fannie, a slave woman who wrote a loving letter to her husband. “I haven’t forgot you,” she writes, “nor I never will forget you as long as the world stands.” (Crouch, B, Journal of African American History)
“…it’s not across the board because what is happening is that we are still dealing with the point of slavery. And we are descendants of slavery and because our families were broken up…” – Loni Love
Is there a correlation between a Black man who cheats, and the enslaved Black man who was forced to have sex with and impregnate lots of women without attachment or commitment? Has this trauma passed down through generations caused Black men to perpetuate similar behaviors as was required during slavery? Is this what Loni Love of The Real was trying to communicate?
Certainly, we have all inherited both good and toxic behaviors from our ancestors in one way or another. To this day many Black families say they eat pork because “at slavery times that’s all we had to eat, so we made food taste good by trying things out,” says Big Mama on the 1997 movie Soul Food.
But Black people aren’t the only people who eat pork or are known for eating pork (and eating like you did when you were enslaved is not wise).
“Cheating is a matter of choice. And when you cheat it is a choice that you as a man are making to feed your ego. It has nothing to do with your boys not being around. It has nothing to do with men working too hard. It’s not a matter of race. Men make choices and cheating is always a poor choice because it’s ego-driven.”
– Charlamagne tha God
While there are certainly questionable actions we’ve picked up from being an enslaved people, there is no evidence that directly links Black men cheating to slavery. Cheating is not a trauma-based response from slavery that causes Black men to be untrustworthy and unfaithful more than any other race. Men and women of all races and backgrounds make poor choices that cause them to cheat for one reason or another.
What further complicates things is that Adrienne adds that this is true “across the board,” which is a good point. This could have been an opportunity for further clarity, historical context, and teaching but Loni cuts her off, further clarifying her point that she is specifically talking about Black people and in particular, Black men:
“No, it’s not across the board because what is happening is that we are still dealing with the point of slavery. And we are descendants of slavery and because our families were broken up we still do not have a idea of how to have…together, families were broken up…”
We are not descendants of slavery.
We are the descendants of a people who were enslaved.
If it’s true that because of slavery Black men struggle with fidelity, then we also have to say something about the white slave masters who raped and forced black men and women to breed. And we have to talk about the white slaveowners who cheated on their white wives with black women.
Black men during slavery did not have the same capacity to cheat as men and women have today. Marriage during slavery did not mean the couple could exercise fidelity because they did not have a right to their own bodies. While married, the wife may have had children by the master after being raped by him and the husband could have also fathered more children through force. The only guarantee was the love each had for one another and the hope that they could see each other as often as was allowed and cultivate some sense of normalcy for their families (as normal as was possible under slavery).
Is it fair to say, “lots of white men beat their wives because they are the descendants of slave-owners and masters who beat their slaves?” Is it ever fair to make generalizations about a group of people, gender or race?
Imagine the frustration of being a Black man in America, honorable and striving only to look and see your own woman (The Black Woman) consistently publicly declare to the world that you are not capable of doing right.
“Black men everyday are dealing with our character being shamed.”
– Willie D
If we say “black men don’t know how to be faithful because we are still dealing with the point of slavery” we first miseducate people on the history of our enslavement. Next, we alienate Black men, assume Black women and other races of people (across the board) don’t cheat, and throw Black men under the bus.
Books I recommend for further research on Slave Breeding and Blacks used as Commodities:
The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry by Ned and Constance Sublette
The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation by Daina Ramey Berry
Medical Apartheid: The Dark Experimentation on Blacks from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington