How Much Time Do You Spend with Your Book Before You Self-Publish It?

Denzel Washington stopped eating pork, read the Quran, and went to Fruit of Islam lessons to get ready for his part in Spike Lee’s 1992 biopic Malcolm X. He was in character to the point where he even recognized the specific pair of glasses that Malcolm X was wearing on any given day.

Photo by Lara Jameson

Being on your own timeline is one of the tremendous benefits of self-publishing. The days of waiting ten years for a major publishing house to approve your work are long gone.

But how much time do you spend on your book before you Self-Publish it?

Sure. You can self-publish a book you wrote in two weeks, but is this wise? Has anyone seen the manuscript outside of yourself? Has it been properly edited? Formatted? And how’s that cover looking?

Remember, writing and publishing books are two separate processes.

There’s a reason books take a long time to release in traditional publishing, and while we self-publishers have the privilege of not having to wait as long, we should take our time.

I’m sorry to tell you, but being published on Amazon is not the flex it used to be. The platform is oversaturated with mediocrity. You don’t want your book swimming in this sea.

We can all agree Washington is a phenomenal actor, but exceptional people don’t just happen. Extraordinary people are birthed from hard work, practice, and study.

This is your reminder that you are not running late or behind in today’s immediate gratification society. You don’t have to publish your book right away just to be able to say you did.


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Dear Self-Publisher, How Your Book Looks Inside Matters Too: Don’t Forget Typesetting

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
  • Adobe In-Design
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • 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.

Check out more Indie Author Basics Here

Genuine Connections Will Take You Places Money Won’t

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:

  • Our mind
  • Our connections

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.

December, 30, 2017

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.

June 13, 2018

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.

June 16, 2021

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.

Something to think about.

Check out more Indie Author Basics Here

5 Lessons I Learned from In-Person Networking

Owners / Founders of Upscale Foot Spa

With back-to-back events, it’s been a busy few weeks. Here are some networking lessons I learned so far:

Wear Your Brand

One of the first things I noticed at the AOD (Accountability on Demand) Live business conference was that many people wore their logo, slogan, or tagline on their shirts and clothing. At Poet Fest, one poet even had her name written down her pants leg.

It was a great marketing technique that I had missed. Here I am with a Calvin Klein shorts set on, and everyone else is wearing their own name brands. I went home vowing to get some t-shirts done.

But then, I realized this is not about t-shirts or wearing your name on your clothes.

I probably won’t do that.

Whether you wear your logo figuratively or literally, this is about intentionally showing up for yourself.

Message received.

My shorts set was still cute, though.

Email / Text Marketing Is Prime Real Estate

More than selling books and gaining more social media followers, I have increased my email list substantially over a month.

But why is this important?

Keeping in touch via email and/or text marketing helps you to stay connected to readers you might have otherwise never seen again.

During your book signings, speaking events, and other things, keep either a notebook and pen on your table or a tablet.

Write Email List Sign-Up somewhere and put name and email so they know where to write it.

If using a tablet, have the spreadsheet already open where people can type their information.

People will walk by and just write their name and email, sometimes even before talking to you or buying a book. How is this a good thing?

It gives you the chance to build a relationship with them later. And then, they might just consider supporting your work.

This is also why I encourage Indie Authors to sell books from their author website, to stay connected with readers: because you have no idea who bought your book from Amazon unless they tell you or leave a review you can see.

Social Media is Still King

In 2022, people do not ask for your business card. They ask for your IG handle.

The first draft of this said, “Business Cards Are Still Useful,” and that’s still a lesson I learned as it made it easier for me to give out my contact information and served as a great conversation starter.

And, while I wouldn’t say business cards are dead, they are used differently in the age of social media.

If you are old school, you can take all your social handles and put them on a card. And although people will probably stash these bad boys away in their office drawer like I did when I got home, not before they follow your Instagram, Facebook group, and Twitter.

Social media is not only King but essential considering the current pestilence situation we got going on with Covid and Monkey Pox.

I don’t take pictures wearing my mask because I think it’s weird, but I always have it and my mini hand sanitizer. Please believe it.

The bottom line is, people are online all day, every day more than usual.

This means not being online and using social media is tragic for anyone looking to grow a business in 2022.

How to Actually Network

First, I am introverted. Walking up to strangers and talking to them isn’t my thing. However, I learned that is only a small part of real networking. The other part is to discern how (or if) we can best serve each other.

How can what you do and what I do become a bridge? How can we build on what we build?

That’s what networking is, making connections and building relationships.

Practical example: You are a writer, and there’s someone in your social circle who edits. It would be a good idea to connect with that person. 

But it doesn’t have to be someone who does something similar to what you do, either.

Michael Q. Lau helps you on your journey to health by optimizing your relationship between fitness and food.

Let’s say you have been trying to lose weight, work out and eat better. There is a nutritionist specializing in fitness in your midst. It would be best if you connected with that person and tried to see how to combine your personal goal of being fit with your business goals.

How can ya’ll turn this collaboration into something more?

Follow-Up

Communication is the cornerstone of all good relationships, so keep in touch with people.

Engage with their social media, follow their blogs, check out their services, ask them questions, subscribe to their email list, and so on.

Be present.

Stay safe folks


Yecheilyah’s Book Review Registry: Early Registration for 2022

My review registry is closed for 2021. I am only reviewing books left in the queue. However, please do consider registering early for 2022 as spots fill up fast, and there’s only one me.

What is a Book Review?

A book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review may be a primary source, opinion piece, summary review, or scholarly review. A book review’s length may vary from a single paragraph to a substantial essay but can also be as short as a single sentence. Book reviews help encourage readers to purchase a book, act as social proof, helps with an author’s Amazon ranking, and increase the book’s visibility.

About Yecheilyah’s Reviews

I have been a professional book reviewer for five years now. Authors who have trusted me with their book babies vary from newly, first-time Self-Publishers to experienced Best Sellers. From Indie Authors to Traditionally Published, I’ve worked with them all. The PBS Blog has been on Reedsy’s list of Best Book Review Blogs since 2017 as one of its vetted catalog of active book blogs and thoughtful, quality book reviews. My reviews are honest and thorough without giving away spoilers.

“It’s not just because she reviewed my novelette, All Good Stories, and gave it 5 stars, I’m writing about her because she gives great (and helpful) reviews. In a market so full, it’s hard to choose what to read, isn’t it? We really need reviews these days that go beyond the minimalistic “I liked it” to know what we’re investing our money in. Because money doesn’t grow on trees. Neither do books anymore, for that matter.”

– Linda G. Hill, author, All Good Stories.

How to Apply for Review

1). Email the First 3 Chapters of Your Book. 

Starting January 2022, I will now require authors to submit the first three chapters of their manuscripts for review. Whether your book is chosen depends on how well you can hook me with your first few chapters. Be sure to send the link to your book on Amazon along with your chapters to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com.

2). Approval

I will email you back and let you know if I would like to move forward and review your book. Please allow at least 2-3 business days before you hear back from me for your approval status.

3). Pay the Readers Fee 

If I choose to review the book, there is a reader’s fee. Pay the fee through my site. The reader’s fee does not guarantee a positive review, nor is it payment for an Amazon review, which is against Amazon’s terms of service.

4). Gift Me a Copy of Your book.

If your book is published gift it to me through amazon or the platform of your choice. Do not attach a PDF or Word Document via email.

  • PDF documents are only acceptable if the book is not yet published and you are looking for an early review.

You may ship me a paperback / hard copy but let me know this in our email correspondence. 

Pro. This option will allow me to post a picture of the book on the gram! 

Con. This option is a longer turnaround time on the review since I have to wait for the book in the mail, read it, and then review it. This is a great option for more exposure on social media, but I do not recommend it if you are in a hurry for feedback.

I rate on the scale of 3-5 only on this blog. If your review falls below a 3-star rating, I will privately email you the report and my thoughts.

Please Click Here to Read My Review Policy in Full.

Ready to move forward? Email me and let’s get to it.

Dear Indie Authors, Stop Stalking Your Amazon Book Ranking

Independent Authors have become obsessed with rankings, reviews, and becoming an Amazon Best Seller over the years. While there is proof book reviews carry weight (social proof, credibility, increased visibility), there are many myths surrounding rankings.

According to Amazon, “the better the sales rank, the more sales it’s getting on Amazon.”

But, is this true?

Yes, selling books will naturally raise your book ranking, but your Amazon ranking can also be high for other reasons.

When I released I am Soul back in 2017, I set it up for preorders and, on release, it made it to #7 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List.

How I thought I was doing it

To the untrained eye, this can look like I sold tons of books. And by the “untrained” eye, I mean everyday people who are not Self-Publishers or are not familiar with how the system works like family and friends.

But then…

According to my sales report for December 2017, I sold five preorders between December 16-19 (the book was released on the 20th).

Yes, I said five.

Five books sold, and I was #7 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List.

Just so you know I am not BS-ing you, here’s a screenshot:

I thought I was big time.

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar got 13 preorders but did not come anywhere near #7.

How is this possible? Shouldn’t the book that sold more copies rank better? Yes, but as many people have already said, no one knows exactly how Amazon’s algorithm works. What we do know is books sold aren’t the only thing that determines a book’s ranking.

There is nothing wrong with pushing your book to sell tons of copies on release day and to make that Best Sellers list, but your book’s success is not contingent upon how well it does in the first few days or even weeks. A book that continues to sell over time does better than a book that does well all at once and then stops selling.

In the long run, steady, organic growth will always outperform sudden bursts of activity.

“At the end of two weeks, a book that sells five copies a day will rank significantly higher than a book that sells 3,000 copies on its launch day.” (Doppler, J)

It’s like book reviews, in a way. The newer the review, the better.

  • Book A gets about twenty reviews out of the gate. Your review team showed up and showed out. But, over the next few days, weeks, and months, there is no new activity.
  • Book B gets a couple of reviews out of the gate, a few more a week later, a few more the following week, and several more over the next few months.

Because Book B has newer reviews, it tells Amazon’s algorithms people are still interested in this book.

The Moral

A book that gets reviews slowly but consistently over time does better than a book that gets tons of reviews at once, but then the reviews stop coming in.

But what does this have to do with the sales ranking?

The book that continues to get new reviews is likely also the book that is continuing to sell. It might not be a #1 Best Seller or rank in Amazon’s top 100, but the author is selling books consistently. 

And this is what authors should focus more of their attention on.

Most indie books that take off running, in the beginning, stop selling after the release date because so much energy is directed at the launch that authors forget they need to continue to sell books AFTER that.

It is not to say being an Amazon Best Seller is not a cool thing. It is to say it doesn’t carry as much weight as people have made it out to be. Being an Amazon Best Seller is great, but it doesn’t really mean anything if the author is not making sales in the grand scheme of things.

There is no need for Indie Authors to stalk their Amazon ranking because a high ranking doesn’t always mean they are selling books. In the same way, a low ranking doesn’t always mean they are not selling books.

Sales rank plays a minor role in determining the order of Amazon search results. Other factors such as relevance, keywords, sales history, product listing quality, and available inventory may influence Amazon’s algorithms. Therefore, a book with a high sales rank may appear later in search results than lower-ranked books.

How do you tell if your sales rank on Amazon is reflective of books sold or just a bump in Amazon’s algorithm because of other influences?

Consistency

  1. Besides monitoring your sales report through your KDP account, consistency is the best determinate that your book ranking on Amazon is legit. By legit, you are a best seller because you are selling books. If you are a #1, #2, #3 (and so on) best seller in your category for weeks, months, or even years at a time, the chances are that is because you are selling books regularly, getting reviews, and doing the dango thang. Congratulations, you are an actual bestseller.
  1. Suppose you are only a #1 Amazon Best Seller for five minutes. In that case, it could be a combination of things influencing the algorithm, causing the numbers to fluctuate where one minute you are number one (let’s say because tons of people looking at your book page), and the next you are #512.

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You should certainly be proud of yourself for making it to #1, whether you were there for five minutes or five months. However, don’t allow yourself to be deceived by Amazon’s ambiguous system. Ya’ll are out here going crazy and being scammed over something that doesn’t even matter.

This isn’t about Amazon. This is about Indie Authors and how we’ve allowed our writing self-esteem to be determined by numbers and rankings. Just because you are not an Amazon Best Seller does not mean you are not selling books. Period.

And, for clarity, I did not say you should ignore your book ranking, just that there’s no need to stalk it, as in repeatedly going back to refresh the page every five minutes.

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Author Scams and Publishing Companies to Avoid

I came across this excellent article this morning on identifying author scams and publishing companies to avoid. Click on the read more here link below for the full article.

“The great thing about publishing with major retailers is that it’s almost always free! And unless you’re 100% technophobic, you shouldn’t have much of a problem uploading your book to Amazon or Kobo or Apple Books within a few quick minutes. There is often value in working with a professional to optimize your blurb and your metadata or perfecting your author bio, but getting your book listed on Amazon is not something you need to pay for.”

Read More Here