You don’t have to mention my name
Waste, not your resources
Carving my initials into the ground
Or on street signs and buildings
Not near corners
where future Martin Kings
Will sell dope and brawl
Until their quarrels leak
With the accidental stench of death
Over dice games
I’m sure King didn’t expect his memory
To be synonymous with the street
At which the next ghetto is named
Remember me not this way
Not on the front of your t-shirts
And flowers as if my nose can still
In your thoughts
You don’t even have to say my name
Build no fancy statues for me
Sing no sad songs
Remember me in ink
No need to write me down
Just write me down in ink
Admit that every time
I opened my mouth
the earth moved
that I did not sugar coat
the splitting of the sky
when it birthed the rain and that yes,
I drowned a time or two
be sure to mention my mistakes.
But at least you can say that with every base in my voice
I played the truth
and that with the thrashing
of every keyboard my fingers
exposed the secret
why every heart
If you are just following this blog (first, heeyyy shout out to you!!) you may not know that we had a blog podcast going on a couple years ago …
…but I noticed something devastating just now.
Okay, not that devastating. Obviously, it’s not that serious, haha
No, but okay. It kinda is.
Some of our episodes are missing!
In fact, I can’t find the FIRST episode (which was kinda the best one.)
What in all the world.
Soundcloud. That’s what.
I started this blog podcast as kind of extension of No Whining Wednesday, where I encourage you to not whine, criticize, or complain for a 24-hour period. (learn about that here)
The podcast was a series of inspirational episodes with each message no longer than 5-15minutes so you can listen and digest the message while driving home from work or doing daily tasks. Designed to be an audio version of the blog, I hoped to spill some hope into your life, one podcast at a time.
But I stopped…
I put a halt on the podcast because I didn’t see a big enough demand to justify paying for more space.
Sound cloud’s basic plan only allows for so much space. I was also paying to have the episodes distributed to iTunes and other platforms.
But I am now noticing that some of the earlier episodes are missing.
So blog, what should we do about this?
Should I relaunch the podcast and just promote it more?
At the moment there are 18 episodes linked to the podcast page but you will find some links won’t work. SoundCloud has removed those episodes to make room for more space. If you think I should continue, let me know!
Keep in mind that I am already over my limit by 15mins so I physically cannot upload more eps unless I upgrade to the Pro Account. This means the demand for this to continue must justify me paying for more space. If not, things will remain as they are.
Your scent lingers long after you’ve gone
I breathe you
Intoxicated by the integrity
of your soul
You leave and I lay in bed
inhaling your spirit
anxious for a whiff of your mind
hungry for a sip of your wisdom
dazed by the intellect of the lyrics you spew so effortlessly
I’m an addict for your words
Conversation is an intimacy
deeper than penetration
All these years
and we are closer
than when we first
the sun coming in from someplace outside of itself
water pouring in from someplace outside of itself.
Some sonnets are crushed grapes
crumpled and left for dead
or did you not know that is how wine is made?
festered and developing into something worse.
Some poems are nearly dead
before they reach the light.
Or did you not know that is how Messiah rose?
from the grave
from the pit
from the earth.
When you feel that you cannot write
that your life is a laughing contradiction
thrown back into your face
a joke everyone gets but you
when your hands tremble with uncertainty
too weak to hold the pen
too fragile to unvirgin the page
Because not all poems are conceived in light
some of them, the best of them
are buried in darkness
and covered in dirt.
until suddenly, like a sprouting seed
a poem is born.
REMINDER: Don’t forget to preorder Keep Yourself Full in ebook below. Free with Kindle Unlimited.
Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.
It’s hard running a small business. Independent Artists (authors, publishers, musicians, filmmakers, etc.) aren’t backed by huge companies and corporations and many of us don’t have millions of dollars in the bank. In fact, most small business owners still have 9-5s because, like you, we have bills to pay and families to provide for. But the truth is most people only see the result, the finished book, the mastered track, the Indie film. You don’t see the prayers that go up, the tears that come out, and hope that what you are doing is not in vain. You don’t see the depressed spirits of artists who lack support and feel like giving up. Sometimes it can be so overwhelming that it doesn’t seem as if you are making progress at all.
That’s why noticing small growth is important to me. I don‘t post about my work for applause, fake pats on the back or to look important. I post and get excited about it because baby steps still move us forward. Even when it’s something small and even when it may seem silly to others I am free and I have the freedom of celebrating where I am on the way to where I am going. It’s time we stop waiting until we’ve become Bestsellers to see the value in our work.
In these moments let’s remind ourselves that progress does not have a price tag, it’s not a social media meme, and it’s not a popularity contest. If you went from $0 to $10, you have progressed. If you went from no book sales at a signing to five books sold, you have progressed. If you’ve gone from wanting to publish a book to holding that book in your hands, you have progressed. Even if you’ve only moved from the bottom of the bookshelf squeezed between books where hardly anyone will ever see it, to the top of the poetry section (yours truly) you have progressed! Stop waiting to be some kind of celebrity before you realize the value in your work. Growth is growth no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.
If you love poetry, black history, or self-care literature and you are in the Marietta/Atlanta area, I’d appreciate you investing in me by stopping by this B&N (address below) and purchasing a copy of my poetry book, I am Soul or grab and review the ebook on Amazon here. (Listen to my poetry on YouTube here).
Thank you for your time, attention, and support of a small business owner. Remember that support begets support.
It’s time for another post on lessons from a book signing. I try to learn something new from every event I do. I also enjoy seeing if what we learn online applies when in direct, real life, person-to-person contact. Here’s what I learned from Friday‘s Book Signing.
Practice Makes Perfect
While I am not perfect by any means, consistency and practice really do help us to get better. Cliche as it is now, the saying is true. The more book signings and events I do, the better I get at pitching my books. I am a naturally shy person but author events help me to be more open. It is the chance for me to learn how to communicate what my book is about without being scripted (which is easy to do when you’re behind a computer), but that you only have seconds to do in person. For example, I had the chance to sit and think about what I wanted to say here, how to say it and the words that would best sum up this experience. In person, the time is much, much faster. There is no time to sit and think about what to say. There is nothing but your knowledge of your product and why you think it‘s worth the time and money investment. They even asked me to recite a poem on the spot! I am thankful to Yah I was ready.
It’s also not just about selling books but genuine interaction with the people. There were many people who bought books but did not take pictures because they didn’t want to and I did not force them. Some people didn’t buy books at all, but they sat and talked with me and laughed and we shared some interesting conversation. I met a new poet who told me about some open mic spots to hit up and a young man who referred me to a Barnes and Noble in the area that accepts Self-Published Authors. The best way to get started making change is to begin where you are.
Competing Against Cell Phone Attention Spans
In person, you get to see the distractions we compete with up close and personal. People‘s attention spans are short already but add to it the mobile device and it’s easy to get discouraged. Many of the people who walked past my table were glued to their mobile device or already talking on it. This makes me much more conscious of this when doing business online. Knowing that the interest in the smartphone is a big deal is one thing but seeing it empowers me with so many new ideas and thoughts on how I, as an author can keep this in mind when interacting with readers.
Don’t Try to Sell to Everyone (Don’t Sell At All, Connect)
The same thing about finding your target audience online applies to offline as well. While the time is faster and you do have to pull people away from their phones, discernment is important as well. I am starting to pick up on who to reach out to (literally) and who to let walk by. This may sound funny but it’s not just about getting a sale. Some people purposely crossed the street to avoid my table (lol), some people purposely focused on the ground and avoided eye contact, and some people were not on the phone. They just pretended to be to avoid me. These are examples that “I don‘t want to be bothered.” Just like not everyone will want to buy your book online, not everyone wants to buy your book in person. Some things I picked up on from people who wanted to buy my book or was interested in learning more:
They hesitated and stared at the book cover while walking by
They stopped by
They spoke to me
They asked questions
They stopped when hearing what the book was about
There are ways of knowing if you should reach out to people and if you should not. I hope to use the experience from Friday to help me at the Atlanta book signing in July.
Some Writing Advice Does Not Apply Offline
Every time I meet with people face to face it‘s a different experience than being online. What may surprise you is that I find writing advice (not all, but some) we use online does not apply to offline. There’s no screen, no script, no hashtag, nothing but good ole fashioned communication between two people who may share a genuine interest. In real life people do want your business card to learn more about you, they do ask about your website, and they want to know if they can follow you online. This means that while some advise against business cards, author websites and social media, this is not true when you are face to face with the people. In my experience, no one asks to follow your blog or if they can sign up to your email list (unless there’s already a sign-up form present and you ask them). While I think both are important and are necessary for Indie Authors to have (and both have helped me tremendously), in my experience when talking to the people in person who don‘t already know me, the basics they want to know is:
Do you have a card?
Do you have a website?
Can I follow you online?
Can I pay with my card?
Applying this means:
Having business cards with me
Having a website for people to go to
Being present on social media
Having a card reader on hand
If you did not get to stop by or you are not in the area, remember that I am Soul, my latest collection of poetry is 99cents in ebook through the month of April in honor of National Poetry Month. Also, if you are in the Atlanta area this summer, I’ll be at the Atlanta African American Book Festival in July. I’ll be premiering my first Non-Fiction release, Keep Yourself Full (of course I’ll still have my other books present as well) and other author swag. Don’t miss the chance to connect. See you soon ✒📚📸
In, building connections as a writer on social media, it’s important that you are authentic in those interactions. What does this mean? It means to be genuine and true, to be real but what does this mean? To be genuine and true is to be yourself in a way that does not force others to accept you, but brings together those who share the same passion as you do. People can tell if you are sharing something just to sell your books or sharing something because you deeply love it and you care about sharing that love with others for their benefit. You genuinely want to educate people, inspire people, empower people, or you want to make them laugh, or help them to heal or evolve. What people get out of getting to know more about you? What value do you offer that helps to make their lives better? This is what building relationships are about. It’s not so much about the book itself, it’s more who you are, who we all are and how your book seeks to make us better. It doesn’t matter if you write fiction or non-fiction, in what way are we better from reading your book? This answer is revealed in your genuine interactions with others. People can tell if the information you are sharing is not authentic. We can tell if you’re sharing something just to sell your book versus sharing something because you want us to be better.
The problem is not that “artistry” doesn’t sell. There is no debate to be had about writing as an art and as a business. It is both. Integrity is everything and I personally believe no one should ever compromise that. Even more so, I believe it is this very integrity that makes us interested in an artist in the first place whether that artist is an author or musician or painter. There’s this debate about wanting to make real money from writing or treating it as an art I do not understand. There is no competition to be had. It is possible to be a serious businessperson and artist at the same time. The problem is too many new Indie authors aren’t authentic about the art enough to build trust among readers to the extent that we care about supporting that author’s work.
This isn’t about trying to find anyone to read our books. You are in search of people who share your passions, goals, and belief system. You aren’t here to force people to share those passions and beliefs but to connect with those who do. This isn’t about trying to make people like you. This is about genuinely connecting with those who do. These are authentic connections. It doesn’t matter how many times you talk about your book if I know nothing about you or share your vision or if I don’t care about what you are bringing to the table, I am not buying the book and I am not the reader you want. You don’t want me. You want the reader interested in the value you are bringing. To get here is to start with offering value where being yourself is not a gimmick.
If you would like to take the step toward helping your potential readers to get to know more about you and your passions and how you can help to make us better through your writing, be sure to take part in my Author Introduce Yourself Feature, specifically designed to help us to get to know you better. Learn how to do so HERE and stay tuned for tomorrow’s featured author.
Also, don’t forget that FOUR of my books are on sale for the month of February. If you are into Black Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction or poetry, choose your favorite book by clicking HERE and pay just 99cents from now through 2/28.