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.

Renaissance: The Nora White Story

Dear Ms. Morrison,

Now that I’ve actually finished the first draft, received some feedback, and am on my way to the next part of the process, I’ve changed the name of my upcoming novel. I am almost brave enough to share some excerpts with you! Time permitting, I’ll be releasing chapters this fall and all that fun stuff.

New Title: Renaissance – The Nora White Story

Log-Line: “A young woman seeks to pursue a writing career in The Harlem Renaissance Movement. Meanwhile, her parents search for their daughter’s disappearance.”

I’ll have a full description of what this book is about at a later date. Stay tuned.

Said is Dead

Writers check it out! Some words you can use to tighten up that dialogue instead of the dreaded said:

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Note: I want to edit this post to include something a blogger reminded me of in the comments because I think its important. It was something I woke up with on my mind and it occurred to me that I forgot to mention it in this post. So I hope you all don’t mind me adding it here:

Using said is still (and always will be) good just not too much as to make the dialogue sound monotone. Boring basically. However, you don’t want to go overboard with words that do nothing but show that you have an advanced vocabulary. All of these words must be used, obviously, with wisdom.

Excel At Being Yourself: Redefining Success

A man and his son were on their way to town. On their way they ran into different people. The first group thought someone should be riding the donkey. They thought it silly that the man and his son had a donkey that they were not riding. So the old man decided to ride the donkey. The next group thought the son should be riding the donkey. “How could he have his son to walk?” they thought. So the son climbed on top the donkey. Another group thought, “Poor Donkey. You two should carry the donkey,” they thought. So the old man and his son tied the donkey to a pole and carried him. The final group just laughed and laughed. “Why are they carrying the Donkey?” In the end, the Donkey finally got frustrated and ran away. So read a children’s book.

A man wrote a book. He Self-Published this book, and spent 200k on a book launch that failed. According to him, he didn’t make The New York Times Bestsellers list. Sure, he made other awesome lists and made enough money to quit his job. But he didn’t make the NYT so the launch failed, or so he said.

A Bestseller could be a book that just keeps selling. A book that people cannot stop talking about. A book that, years from now, will continue to make money. How much? It doesn’t matter. What matters? People keep talking about it. At least this is one definition of a bestseller.

Success is when you excel at being who you are and doing things the way you want it done. Perfecting your invention is what makes others want to invest in it because its original. Its something that hasn’t been done before. Why hasn’t it been done before? Because you hadn’t been born yet. Instead of figuring out how everyone else has done it, how about we redefine what it means to be successful by investing in the visions we’ve been given and perfecting them? How about we sharpen our blogging, writing, photography, or whatever skills we have and release this greatness into the world? How about we become professionals because we’re good at what we do and not because the status quo deems it so. After all, what is a professional anyway? More so, who told you that’s what it was?

Building – When The Writing Begins

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Writing does not begin until I can see the entire story, even the end. It is a must that I can see how the story ends. You see for me writers are builders, architects if you will. A book starts with an idea, but not all ideas should become books. Not all ideas are story fabric. Some ideas are meant to be stored for a later time, while others require immediate attention. When an idea enters my mind, I first examine if it’s worthy enough to mature into something more. Is it powerful enough? Can it change lives? Is it different? In short, an idea has to be special, like a rare diamond or a spring of water in the desert. Can we want for it? Does it make us hunger? Does it make us thirst? Not only is it a nice idea, but is it necessary? For me, it has to be something so powerful that it has the potential to grow; an idea that is without potential to grow is not an idea that is fit to become a book.

When I have an idea that is worthy, the writing doesn’t begin just yet. I mean sure, there’s a paragraph here, a sentence there, a potential character name somewhere over there. Lots of things can change as I am seeking to stretch the idea into something more; to mold it into something tangible. The title may change, the name of the characters may change, the setting, plot. I am picking out pieces and adding some. I am changing colors and creating lives. I am an examiner of bricks and mortar to see what fits. Restoring and conserving ideas, coming up with new ways to use them. It is even possible that I may begin to sketch out a stretch of chapters. However, the writing has not yet begun. It does not yet begin because I cannot see the entire work on the page, just shades of pencil and splashes of ink but there’s no real story there. No, words on a page does not mean I have written just yet. Words on a page are merely the sand on the shores, the bricks in the pile, the outer frame of a building with no substance.

When I can see the story move in my head; when I can see it walk its way around from camera to camera; when the dust kicks up and there are actually footprints in the plot; when I can see people speaking and acting and living, that moment when the wind blows for the first time. This is when the writing starts for me. The writing begins when I can hear the story breathe. When I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, the full construction on the page. Even how the book will end and this is when I can truly set out to navigate my way though this world. I am a spectator to a movie that has already begun, a director who must choreograph each scene. This is when I’ve began to write the first draft of a book. It is the moment when I know that the original idea is strong enough, and has the potential to be story fabric.

For Rose – A Story in a Single Image

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The city never afforded her body the chance to be this intimately part of creation in the way to which her eyes were now experiencing. The sun danced splashes of yellows on her skin and the light immersed her body into the landscape. Forty-two acres of earth welcomed Chelsea until her eyes were not big enough to hold all of it at one time. The sun seemed to come down from the sky to personally greet her and she felt a closeness to the heavens like never before. It was as if she could reach up to the sky and capture the wings of angels in the palms of her hands. A treasure of luminaries in a bowl of black dirt. The only sounds audible were locust and grasshoppers that leaped through the air like children playing hide and seek with the clouds and the growling motors of cars racing by. The land did not reach any homes on the right or the left for at least a mile or two nor were there any houses in front of her. Chelsea remembered feeling lonely and yet the way the trees stretched its branches wide reminded her of a mother’s embrace. Only Forrest stood across from her, a gate closed her into her grandmother’s inheritance, and community spoke like laughter beyond Sara’s womb. She bent her knees and crouched closer to the ground, plucking handfuls of grass from the rich dirt. She had to touch it to make sure that it was real. How could something so beautiful be the result of something so painful? What Grandma Rose left to her would nourish generations of children and her heart ached that Nana would not be here to drink glasses of lemonade on the front porch of their country home or eat tomatoes fresh from the garden. “Rose”. She said it below a whisper and let the smile crease into her face and wrap itself around her cheeks. It had been weeks since she smiled. Nana always knew how to do just that. Amazing how she consoled her even beyond the grave. The woman let the emotion wash over her and the tears race down her face and drip from her lips. The sun bowed its final curtsy before lowering itself into sleep for the night and Chelsea cried for the last time. Her tears all courage shaped in her throat. Finally, the grief had come to an end.