Blogging and Time

One of the many complaints I hear from new bloggers is concerning time. Blogging takes a lot of time. This is true and time is a very precious thing. How we spend our time is a big deal. What you spend time on today can directly influence your day tomorrow or weeks and months ahead. These days, I don’t have a lot of time to blog and I am not mad about it. I have shifted my perspective on a lot of things, one of them being better managing my time. The PBS Blog is still growing and there are new subscribers daily even if I don‘t blog daily and engagement is decent. My posts are shared daily. All of this from not blogging. I am wasting time just talking about it, actually. I am sitting here writing a blog post when I should be doing laundry.

Define Your Purpose

What are you using your blog for? Do you plan to monetize your blog? In other words, get paid for blogging? Do you intend to keep your content free? Are you using your blog to reach more readers? Build an audience? Are you an author blogger or business blogger? Authors use blogging a bit differently than business bloggers. (I recommend Anne R. Allen’s book The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors) How are you using your blog to your advantage? This question is important because it will determine how you spend your time. Define your purpose for blogging. Don’t just say because you like to write or something vague like that. Be specific. Why did you start a blog and where do you want it to go? One thing I love about Dr. Boyce Watkin’s emails is that he has a clear purpose and everything goes back to that. His thing is Financial Literacy and by the end of every email you know that.

Your Purpose Can Change

Your purpose may also change as you grow and that’s not a bad thing. I didn’t know what I was blogging for when I first started. It took a couple years for me to figure that out and to narrow it down. I am here to connect with readers, black history buffs, to coach new bloggers of the WordPress platform, and to build with Independent Authors. Everything I do on this blog will ultimately go back to one or all of those points. I will either be writing, offering information on black history, giving out blog and writing tips or supporting Indie Authors. Everything I do must be consistent with these things. You may say, “but you didn’t say poetry and certainly you write poetry on this blog!” Truth. I also host a yearly poetry contest and I also didn’t mention inspiration though I am always offering words of encouragement. But this all falls under one of my core points.

Connecting with Readers

Poetry, Short Stories, Creative Writing pieces, Music, Testimony, e.g.

Black History Buffs

Black history articles and little known historical facts

Blog Coaching for New Bloggers of WP Platform

Blog Tips

Supporting Indie Authors

Book Reviews, Promoting / Supporting other Authors, Writing Tips

Build a Schedule

I cannot speak enough about being consistent and having some kind of schedule can help with that. If you think this is unnecessary, then you should probably reevaluate why you’re blogging. Personally, I don’t want to do anything that does not provide some kind of value. If I am incorporating anything in my life whether it’s a blog or a new diet it had better give me a return in some way. For this to happen consistency is necessary and having a schedule can help.

Consistency doesn’t mean every day. Consistency just means regularly. This can be once a week or once a month. (I wouldn’t recommend once a month. I’d try for at least once a week) You don’t have to blog every day but you do have to know what you intend to get out of it. Again, what’s your purpose? Everything will go back to your reason for blogging in the first place. How you blog, your blog schedule, and your content will all come from why you are here. Once you know that, you will be able to build a schedule around this purpose and decide how much time you want to spend blogging. Consistency builds trust, trust builds value and value builds support.

Decide Exactly How Much Time You Want to Spend Blogging

If you are reading this post it probably means you are short on time to blog. You may be too busy to blog regularly but you do want to keep connection with your readers. Once you know why you want to blog and you have created a schedule for your blog, decide how much time you want to actually spend blogging (which should be a part of your schedule). If you only want to spend two hours on your blog just spend two hours on your blog! If it takes longer than two hours to draft a post, save it for another day. We will still be here.

Choose a Time to Offer Support Only

Schedule some time toward supporting other blogs. This is good because if you support others, others will support you even when you are not blogging. Supporting others can take 2 minutes or 30 minutes depending on the kind of support you’re offering but it doesn’t have to be grandiose. Supporting other bloggers can be as simple as liking their new post or sharing it on social media. It can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. Since we are talking about managing time, you may be thinking:

“But EC, I don’t have time to spend on my own blog and now you’re saying I have to spend time on someone else??”

Firstly, you don’t have to do anything and secondly, I know and I get it. I must also admit that I need to spend more time on other blogs too. I don’t have as much time as I used to for blogging but supporting others, even if it’s just to retweet them, is something I squeeze in. Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” Likewise, if you don’t have time to be supportive of someone else blogs, why should anyone support yours? Choose a time (even if it’s a few minutes) simply to offer your support to someone else’s blog. Don’t mention your own blog and please don’t leave your blog link in their comments. That’s spammy and disingenuous. Make this time specifically about others and not you.

I read something once on Instagram the other day that applies nicely to this: “You don’t build a business. You build people and the people build the business.” I don’t know who said it but I’d like to apply the same to blogging: You don’t build a blog. You serve the people and the people build the blog. This blog is made up of people. I didn’t build this, the people did. YOU did.


Have you grabbed your copy of Even Salt Looks Like Sugar yet? Have you reviewed Even Salt Looks Like Sugar yet? What are you waiting for?? Grab your copy now and leave an honest review when you’ve finished reading! CLICK HERE.
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9 Authorpreneur Habits You Can Start Today

Usually, I present author tips for new authors but this is not really a new author tip. This is more so for those authors who’ve been publishing for a while and want to level-up their writing career. Also, these are not rules, must-haves, should-haves, writer commandments, should-dos….you get the point. I call these tips because they are nuggets and tidbits I’ve picked up along the way that may help you. In the end, everyone must find their own way. I just hope I can help in that journey by sharing what I’ve learned. Will this be helpful to you? Maybe not. But also, maybe it will.

What is an Authorpreneur?

Authorpreneur means merging the concept of being an author and an entrepreneur. Typically, an author’s book stops selling after their family and friends have bought it and then it swims in the Amazon sea of unread books. Most authors starting out will probably not sell more than 100 books. This is a real bummer considering the amount of time, emotional investment and money this author may have put into the book. Going from Author to Authorpreneur is not just about writing books and publishing them on Amazon. For most Indie Authors, Amazon royalties will not be enough which is why I think it’s so important to develop more entrepreneurial habits. Indie Authors must start to think about ways of earning money that will produce long-term sustainable income.

“Indie Fiction writers don’t fail at writing. Indie Fiction writers fail at starting a business. – Anne R. Allen

We are living in an age where you do not need to go to college to start a business and you do not need to be signed by a publisher to be a successful author. That’s why authors who are entrepreneurial and run their book publishing like a business are the authors that tend to be successful. Here are nine Authorpreneur habits you can start today:

Promote Your Books Offline Too

Something I have ventured into myself, get into the habit of promoting your books offline, not just online. There is an entire community of people who are offline. By neglecting them you are leaving money on the table. We can do radio shows, events, bookstores, book readings and a ton of other face-to-face activities that will help us to expand our brand. Social media is vital to an Indie Author’s career and very necessary. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should neglect other ways of networking and making money. Get out of your comfort zone and go talk to people face-to-face. As an introvert that is what I have had to do. I have had to get comfortable being uncomfortable. You will be nervous but by surrounding yourself with people who are a level up from where you are, you will see signs of your own growth.

Offer a product or service related to your book

I had a hard time coming to terms with this myself but I learned that you can’t be afraid to charge for your services. Yes, times are hard but that’s why your service is not for everyone. The people who need you and can afford you will invest in you but first, you must have something of value to offer. This product or service can be connected to your book in some way, but it must exist. You can become a motivational speaker or offer a service for something you do well. The book is the start, but it is just the beginning.  What do people need that you can provide? You may think charging for your services will mean that people won’t want to support you.

I’m not gonna lie to you. Some people won’t support you. There will be those who don’t think it’s worth it or that you’re valuable. There are also those who don’t trust you. They trust your free services but they may not value you enough to pay for it. That’s okay because charging means that you are reaching a certain group of people. These are people who see your worth, the value in your product/service and who can afford you. Also, those who do want to support you will when they can but they won’t complain about you. They may not have the money but they do understand your growth. Bottom line: You can’t talk butterfly language with caterpillar minded people. The truth is that free does not always mean valuable. Charging for a service increases the value of the product or service and produces a spirit of commitment from the client to follow through.

Dont spend a whole lot of time measuring your growth by numbers that are not representative of actual Sales

Checking your Amazon stats will drive you crazy, especially when Amazon’s algorithms is funny acting. Your Amazon ranking does not necessarily mean that you have made sales so dont hype yourself up too much or get down on yourself. I sold more pre-orders for Even Salt Looks Like Sugar than I did with I am Soul but you can’t tell by the ranking. I made it to number seven on Amazon’s ranking with I am Soul. Meanwhile, Even Salt Looks Like Sugar didn’t rank well at all. Shouldn’t it have if I sold more? My point is, your Amazon ranking or number of reviews does not always mean book sales so get out of the habit of measuring your success by what other people are doing. I’ve seen plenty of authors with less than 20 reviews do great things and make good money. The level-up is about results and real progress, not perceived progress. Look at your efforts and check to see if those efforts are producing actual sales, which nobody will see but you, instead of rankings that everyone sees but may not be representative of the truth. A good example of this is Alice Walker’s new book “Taking the Arrow out of the Heart.” At this writing it only has 3 reviews, but it is also a best seller.

Write a Book Business Plan

Serious business people have business plans to help them to map out the goals for their business. Creating a Book Business Plan for every book you release is a fun and helpful way to create a roadmap to help guide you through the process and to identify your goals for each book. The good thing? You can create this plan at any stage of the process. I am creating one right now for my new short story. It’s never too late to begin.

A business plan is a written document on the plans, goal, and overall creative vision of the business. It is what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. A Book Business Plan helps you evaluate the possibility of a new book idea in an objective, critical, and unemotional way. It provides an operating plan to assist you in planning your book release realistically and improves your probability for success. But you don’t have to create a boring and complicated business plan. You can take elements of the business plan and apply it to the pre-launch, launch, and post-launch strategy of each book that you write. Your business plan really just needs 7 Basic Elements:

1. Name your book
2. Write a Log-Line for your book
3. Write your book summary
4. Book Marketing Budget
5. Book Marketing Strategy
6. Publishing Timeline
7. Executive Summary (In a business plan, the executive summary is first but it helps to write it last for your book plan.)

Put Together an Author Media Kit

About 95% of Indie Authors don’t have a media kit which means that you can quickly rise above and stand out from the rest with yours. An Author Media Kit is a major marketing package that helps influencers to learn more about you and your work quickly. It ensures accuracy in news stories, helps people to promote you and your book and is free publicity (beats paid Ads).

7 Key Audiences Who Will Access Your Media Kit

  1. Journalist – Broadcasters, Talk Show Hosts,
  2. Bloggers – Easy access to photos bloggers can use, social media handles
  3. Reviewers— Amazon reviews in your kit
  4. Retailers
  5. Individual Buyers
  6. Event Planners
  7. Anyone Who Wants to Promote you or Your Book

One Key Goal of the Media Kit: Make these people’s job easier. By making their job easy, they are going to promote you and your book.

Purchase Your ISBNs

Get into the habit of purchasing your own ISBNs.

I know there’s a big debate in the Indie Author community concerning whether to purchase an ISBN number. I am not going to get into all of that. You can’t tell people what to do with their money. What I will say is this:

ISBNs are expensive, so I wouldn’t stress out if I can’t get one for every book. But, if you can afford to do so, and if you’ve already created your own company, it looks more professional for you to own your ISBNs and is a level up from what everyone else is doing. With your own ISBNs your name or your company name will be listed as the publisher of your books. As an Independent Publisher with your own ISBN, you can publish under your company name, go to a different printer if you choose, open your own account with major companies and opt for national trade distribution. You can even create your own team of publishing experts.

This post is not about doing what everyone else is doing. This post is about the level-up.

Get Legal

Speaking of ISBNs, get into the habit of legalizing stuff, starting with your name. Legalize your business or Author name. You can create a business name or register your author name as an LLC.

You can file the paperwork easily through Legal-zoom under an LLC, Sole Proprietorship, or S-Corporation (please Google these terms for further understanding on what they are). Or, you can just get a DBA. A DBA is a doing business as name that gives you the opportunity to legally write and conduct business under your author name. This will really give you the feel that you’re in business. You will be able to open a bank account in your business name, acquire a debit card, and do so much more. Sure, you can just set up a PayPal account but having a business bank account will take you to a new level of business. You can even upgrade your PayPal by setting up a business PayPal account that is connected to your business bank account. You can then apply for a PayPal debit card (which is free) which gives you another avenue to access your payments directly from your PayPal account. With a PayPal business account, you can purchase a PayPal Here card reader and accept payments on the go!

Website

Having a website for your author business is one of the most basic but professional things you can do. Even if this is just your blog it helps to have a website where people can access all your work in one place. To learn more about the difference between a blog and an author website and if you need both, see a recent post here.

Your website should be clean, well-organized, and not changing in design every three months. For blog websites, be sure that you have a clear follow button, contact page, about page, and visible social media widgets. Make it easier for people to find and follow you.

Business Cards

Get into the habit of carrying business cards around with you. You never know who you’re going to meet!

The truth is that people throw business cards away so I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on business cards. Keep it simple and professional and give your cards away sparingly. While you may have bookmarks that match your book covers, your regular, standard business cards—the ones you’ll pass out on the go at meetings and bookstores—should be simple, easy to read and clean. It should not have any major designs that distract from the important information, should include your name, business name, phone number, email address, website, and social media handles.

This does not scratch the surface I know, but I hope these basic tips can give you the push you need to put yourself in position to level up your writing career and go from Author to Authorpreneur!

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New Author Tip: What is the difference between a blog and author website, and do I need both?

Whenever I am out and about the first question people ask: “Do you have a website?” So I thought I’d talk briefly about the difference between a blog and an author website and if you need both.

First, no. You don’t necessarily need both, though I do recommend it for authors with several published books. But, first, let’s get into the major differences.

Though both are referred to as “websites” a website is different from the blog in that it is something that is static and unchanging. It focuses on the author and his/her work without the distraction of too many other elements (like new posts). Sometimes websites just have one page and that’s OK. The purpose of the website is to give immediate information about who the person is, what it is that they do and how you can stay in touch with them and their work. These things must be understood immediately upon visiting the author’s website.

A blog is the place where the author (that’s you) would write on a regular and consistent basis. Deriving from the word weblog, blogs are technically also websites but the differences is that readers can come to learn more about you as a person and become familiar with your work through your consistent posts. They can get to know you personally and as you are writing your book, not just by reading your published work. A blog is always changing as the writer is always posting new content and is much more interactive than a website which is the basic difference between the two. Blogs have comments, sharing options and catch the attention of Google much better than a static website.

So the major difference is:

  • Website- Static, to the point, unchanging (can have widgets and things but does not change as much with updated posts.)
  • Blog – Constantly changing, interactive, easily indexed by Google

The question is: When should you invest in a website or blog?

If you have no books out, it would make more sense to start a free WordPress blog before investing money into a website. Use the free blog to get a feel for blogging and writing publicly, and use it as a way to build your platform by adding value that brings readers. Don’t just talk about your writing, talk about your life in general. Share your favorite kind of music, movies, or whatever pertains to the subject of the book you are writing. Also, learn more about blogging in general.

I am not going to get into the “Is writing blogging?” debate. I am just going to say that if you’re a writer using blogging to connect with readers you should probably take the time to learn a little bit about how your blog platform of choice works if you hope to do well. No, I don’t think just publishing posts alone is enough. You can write until you’re blue in the face but if you don’t know how to add tags and categories, set up an about or contact page, connect social media, add a follow button and all of the basic stuff, your blog is just going to sit there doing nothing. People may find you eventually, but understanding these basics will help them to find you quicker.

In any event, use blogging as an opportunity to be social, make new friends, and network with professionals. Blogs are interactive and a great way to keep your readers updated. It’s also the easiest way for you to get to know your audience on a level beyond the basics. You can tell by likes, comments or social shares what kind of content people like. This will help you to produce more valuable content and that’s what you want.

So, website? Blog? Both?

If you have several books published I would say to have both a website and a blog, with the blog accessible through your website.

I am not saying you have to spend a lot of money on a website but it should certainly be part of your budget strategy when you are ready to begin. I don’t understand why in every other business people understand that to start a business is to also start a financial plan as well, except when it comes to writing. Publishing books, my dearest Indie Authors, is not free. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to publish a book but it will cost something. Create a budget for that something and don’t publish the book until you can afford to do so. If you want to become a Self-Publisher you will need to be just as financially responsible as if you were starting any other business. Let’s start taking ourselves seriously as authors! And if you’re serious about publishing you must consider thinking like a businessperson and the basics of all businesses are having a website where people can learn more about that business. If you’re a serious author you should have a website.

But, your blog can also certainly act as your website….with a few changes.

Because the blog and the website still have major differences, if you do this (have your WordPress blog act as your website) consider making a few changes to your blog:

  • Use your author name as your blog name and purchase a domain name. If you intend to use your blog as an author blog you are going to want it to be something like: www dot yournamehere dot com, and not www dot tanyaforeverlove dot wordpress dot com. Yes, this blog is not named after me but don’t be like me. But, also consider that I have an author website that is named after me already and this blog is linked to that site. I can send people to yecheilyahysrayl.com and they can still access this blog and that’s what you want: a place where people can access all of you in one place.

 

  • If your blog is also your website (and you blog using WordPress), consider setting up a static or landing page. I can just tell people to go to yecheilyahysrayl.com and they will find everything they need on me (including this blog). But if you are using your blog as your website, remember, the major differences between the website and blog is that the website is static and gets straight to the point. There is no long list of posts to sift through and what the person does is immediately available. An author website focuses ONLY on you, the author, and your work. It’s unchanging and provides everything someone would need to learn more about you without the added commentary, widgets, theme changes and constantly updated articles. This means that if your blog is your website, you may want to change your blog name to reflect your author name, create a domain name of that name and then, you may want to also create a static page.

To create a static page on your blog, first, create a new page.

Dashboard > Pages > Add New

Make this a landing page. A landing page is a single web page used to promote a business or product. Click on my Stella Trilogy Page Here for an example. It was once the static page for this blog. Notice the number of comments. I also sold books through that page. By being able to keen in on the books with no other distractions, people were capable of focusing on the work. That’s what you want and that’s what author websites provide. If your blog is your author website, you can provide that same kind of focus by adding a static page.

After you’ve published your new page you’d want to make it your static page.

Go to your dashboard

Setting > Reading >

Under Your Homepage Displays, check static and then check the landing page you just created

Now, when you tell people about your website they won’t be distracted by your recent blog posts, sidebar widgets, comments, etc. It will act as an author website but also a blog.

Cons: Of course, there are pros and cons to everything. One con of having a static page on your blog is that sometimes it can be harder for people to access your blog posts and follow you. If people have to look for stuff they usually leave. This is one reason I took down my static page. Depending on your theme of choice, people won’t be able to access your blog posts or follow you with the static page up. With this theme I am using, the static page doesn’t even show my follow button.

Which comes back around to why I think, if you have several books out and have established yourself, it’s easier to have both.

  • If you have no books out and are just getting started, create a free WordPress blog and be sure to name your blog after your author name as it will, for now at least, also act as your author website and people will try finding you first by your name so it’s easier.

 

  • If you have several books out have both an author website and a blog. I suggest using either WordPress to create your author website or Squarespace and then making sure that your blog is accessible through your website. You can create a blog through your website platform (i.e. through Squarespace) or you can create a blog on WordPress separately and then just link it to your website. Either way, you want people to access the blog through the website.

Self-love and Poetry Contest

I’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. It’s slow, a little boring and I find the portrayal of submission and authority and the use of scripture to verify abuse offensive, filled with all of the stereotypes and misconceptions the world has taught in regard to a woman and man’s divine role. But, there is one perfect example in the series that illustrates why self-love is so important.

The TV show is based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood and is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. One of these women, June (Offred), is determined to survive the terrifying world she lives in, and find the daughter that was taken from her.

In the series, the Handmaid’s (whose purpose is to birth the children) are treated worse than the baby they carry. The society and the household only love the Handmaid’s to the extent that they love the child they are pregnant with. They treat the women like crap, like slaves and only extend kindness when they get pregnant. When the women get pregnant they are allowed privileges, mercy, and compassion. But only until after the baby is born, where they are to nurse the baby for a few months before turning the baby over to the wives. The women are then shipped off to another family, where their purpose is the same. Make babies for the barren wives of the wealthy families, to be loved only when they have conceived. But how can you love the baby but hate the mother who births the baby?

 

Self-love is important because you can only love others to the extent that you already love yourself.

When the wives of the wealthy men abuse their Handmaid’s, it’s because they hate themselves. They hate themselves for not being able to bear children. They only show love (if we can call it that) to the Handmaid’s when they love themselves and they only love themselves when they have conceived (through the handmaids) children.

Love Yourself. Know Yourself. Be Yourself.

Self-love is not being arrogant and prideful, it is not about the clothing you wear, not about how many likes and comments you get on a post, not about the amount of money you make or what you do for a living. Rather, self-love is a state of appreciation for yourself that grows from actions that support your physical, mental, professional, and spiritual growth. When Self-love is present, we begin to accept better our weaknesses as well as our strengths without thinking badly about ourselves. We are not easily provoked, popping off and cursing people out every time they say something bad about us. We have less of a need to explain our actions and decisions when we know who we are and what our intentions are. We are not quick to over-intellectualize our shortcomings in an effort to get people to understand us. We have more compassion for ourselves instead of beating ourselves down when we do something wrong and we are more centered in our life purpose and values.

Self-love also gives us the discipline to deny what we want for what we need. You love yourself when you can turn away from something that feels good and exciting to what you need to stay strong, centered, and moving forward in your life, instead. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.

When we love ourselves, we expect more of ourselves and of the people around us. No longer does it become acceptable to treat us any differently than we would treat ourselves. When we love ourselves, we demand more and we give more. When we love ourselves, we become more productive professionally, spiritually, and physically. Our cup runs over and we are able to give more to others.

Self-love is important because you will otherwise hate others in the same way that you hate yourself…

…which leads to abuse. Abuse of your friendships, abuse of your relationships, abuse of your career, abuse of your children, abuse of your family. People who hate themselves destroy everyone and everything around them. In turn, they cope by deceiving themselves into thinking it is someone else fault. The truth is that relationships are two-sided. It is never 100% the other persons’ fault but each person has come with their own set of issues. But if you don’t love yourself, you’ll lack accountability for your actions. You’ll tend to always make other people the villain and you, always, the victim.

Remember, without love, knowledge is nothing. Without love, prophecy is nothing. Without love, the truth is nothing.

Now, Enter the 2nd Annual Poetry Contest before July 31st!

Win money. Win books. Get published. Get noticed.

The theme for this year is: Self-Love, Self-Care. Write a poem that talks about self-love or self-care in some way and email it to yecheilyah(at)yecheilyahysrayl(dot) com

Don’t forget to read the full rules and guidelines HERE to learn more about this year’s prizes and how to enter.

That’s it! 3poem max per poet. Enter BEFORE 12:00pm EST on July 31, 2018. Winners announced on August 22, 2018.

 

The Evolution of a Book Cover

I’ve always enjoyed looking at book covers. In fact, choosing a cover is my favorite part of the Indie Book Publishing process. In the beginning, I didn’t care too much about the cover and that was cool. But then, as I matured, I started to look at my writing differently. I stopped looking at my writing alone and started looking at the book as a complete package. In doing so, I’ve learned that the best chances of a book succeeding is not just one thing, but a collection of things. Not just a nice cover alone or a well-written story alone, but everything together. That is what I’ve learned and that is how I will look at book publishing from now on. I will look at the process as a complete piece, a body that I must dress not just outwardly but inwardly and not just inwardly but outwardly.

I’ve been having a little success with I am Soul so I thought I’d talk a little bit about the evolution of the cover and how I think it has played a major role in that success.

To start, I wasn’t going to even release this book when I did. I was supposed to release book two of Nora December 20, 2017, my mothers birthday. Instead, I pushed that book back (it wasn’t ready) and released I am Soul.

I am Soul is a collection of poems from this blog as well as my personal journal, collected, compiled and edited into what is now my 4th collection of poetry. I call it I am Soul because some of the poems are personal, some of them are centered around the African American experience (a people of Soul) and also because people have always said that I have an old soul. Even as a kid people have said that I was mature for my age. For these reasons, I am Soul.

Grainy pic of me and I am Soul with old cover.

The first cover was decent. I liked it a lot. A purple book with a heart-shaped bible page. It was nice enough to land me the #7 spot in the African Literature category of Amazon before release day. It started at number 17, then dropped to number 9 and then number 7.

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But…

I liked the cover a lot but I didn’t love it. I couldn’t help but notice that the cover looked better electronically, to me, than it did when the paperback arrived. It also didn’t stand out very well on Amazon.

I AM SOUL- 3D

I still think this is a cute cover but it doesn’t look all that great offline. Once the book printed it didn’t look the same. The dark blue on top the purple didn’t pop. In fact, this is still the cover on Goodreads. I don’t know how to change it. At first I didn’t care but after awhile I had to follow my heart and change the cover. (A privilege of publishing books Independently. You can change what you want, when you want.)

I decided to try something that matched the name of the book and the content in full. When you think of Soul you think of something deeply personal and connected to that individual.

Soul is something Israelites (Blacks) have always had (think Soul Train), from our hair styles to our creative way of dance, the way that we dress, the way that we sing, and the way that we speak. We set the trends and nothing was more trendy than the Afro at the peak of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. From the practice of shaving the head to pass as a free person in the antebellum south, to the Afro of the 60s and 70s that said that Blacks were proud of who they were and free to be so openly, natural hair had made a comeback.

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Young, beautiful Cicely Tyson.

In the 1950s-60s it was common for Black women in Africa to wear their hair in small bushes. In America, Black women stopped straightening their hair. Women like Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln are examples. And then Miriam Makeba (“Mama Africa”) emerged with a fro in the January 1960s issue of Look Magazine and Cicely Tyson wore her hair in a fro on episodes of the CBS drama East Side, West Side. And as college students and political activists like Jesse Jackson and Angela Davis started wearing fros, the fro had eased on into the mainstream.

Before and After

 

It wasn’t just about hair no more than Samson’s locs was about being trendy. Those locs were a representation of power and strength and so the Afro was a representation of the social-economic and political era of the time. A time when Black men and women were gaining strength and reclaiming parts of their lost heritage, one hairstyle at a time. A similar revolution is taking place today. Black men and woman are embracing more of their natural selves and waking up to the true knowledge of who they truly are.

For all of these reasons, I felt an image of a Black woman wearing a fro spoke volumes concerning the kind of messages I was seeking to give with the poetry inside of the book. Not just the soul of one woman but the soul of a people. The soul of an era.

I still think both covers are nice in their own right but the one that sticks out the most and which embodies a much more clear message; the one that will not just appeal to those who are biblically conscious but reach a larger audience; the one that makes people stop in their tracks, is the new cover.

When I uploaded this to social media, readers responded immediately. This had not happened with the first cover.

 

 

The new cover got me new reviews…

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I submitted this book to two different bookstores. One using the old cover and one using the new cover. The one with the new cover got a call back and the book is beginning to sell at the store. I am still waiting on a response from the store using the old cover.

 

I’ve learned that book covers really are important because I’ve experienced how important they are. Don’t get me wrong, content is just as important. At the end of the day if there’s nothing special to read there’s nothing special about the book. I am Soul still had to be edited and get through the bookstore’s professional reviewers to be stocked.

But, when I walked into the store yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice that because of the cover, Soul stuck out more than some of the other books that I could tell, as an Indie Author, were also self-published. In fact, to my surprise, Soul was sitting right next to Nikki Giovanni’s A Good Cry. Whether someone just sat it there or not, I cannot be sure. But, I was sure enough proud. I wasn’t going to taint the moment with thoughts of how it got there. It was there nonetheless.

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Poetry Blog Tour Hosts Needed

I would like to organize a blog tour to help to spread awareness about my latest collection of poetry, I am Soul. Except, I do not have much money so I am reaching out to bloggers who enjoy poetry to see if you would have the time and interest to host me on your blog this summer.

I would like to present a new poem to each of the blogs that I visit. The days of the tour will depend on the host blogger interested in hosting me. I am open to any blogs willing to promote Indie Authors, though poetry blogs would be a plus. I will provide the following:

  • I am Soul Book Cover
  • Buy Links
  • One new poem per blog
  • 5 Fun Facts about myself
  • Short Bio
  • Author Website
  • Amazon Author Central Page
  • Social Media Links
  • Author Photo

I am willing to put in the work necessary to provide all that you need since I do not have the funds to pay for a tour. All you will have to do is schedule my post according to your time and our agreed upon dates.

Once I have a list of blogs willing to volunteer to help me out (and your dates), I will create a promotional flyer to use to promote the tour. This means that all the blogs willing to help me will get exposure and promotion right alongside me. Your blogs will be promoted, your views will increase and you may just find new followers. Promoting me is not just about me. It’s about all of the blogs willing to participate. We will essentially be promoting each other. Each one, reach one.

If you are interested in this opportunity, please email me at yecheilyah (at) yecheilyahysrayl (dot) com. I will send you the required information this week and see what dates work best for you.

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UPDATE: CLOSED FOR SUBMISSIONS. SPECIAL THANK YOU TO ALL THE BLOGGERS WHO VOLUNTEERED TO ASSIST ME! I AM NO LONGER ACCEPTING MORE HOSTS.

The Greenbriar Mall – Pick-up Your Copy of I am Soul Today!

I am Soul is now available at The Medu Bookstore at the Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta. Medu means “power of the word” and is the second largest black-owned bookstore in Atlanta. They called me last week to say that they would like to carry my book in their store.

It has passed their review process which makes me very proud particularly because these are professional reviewers who have to ultimately vote on the book before it is accepted into the store. This means that a book must meet industry standards. I now share shelf space with the likes of Gabrielle Union, Jenifer Lewis, Tamika Newhouse and Urban Fiction power couple Ashley and Jaquavis Coleman. Of course, I still have to sell (lol) but I am excited about it nonetheless.

This makes the second store in Georgia to carry one of my books. If you are in the Atlanta-land area, remember that I still need your support to stay on the shelves. Be sure to stop in and request your copy. Again, the book is titled I am Soul by Yecheilyah. My name is pronounced e-SEE-li-yah. I am also looking to increase reviews for this book. If you’d like to read it in consideration for a review, let me know. (It’s a collection of poetry.)

Also, don’t forget. I want to see you at the Atlanta African American Book Festival event next month! Not only am I a vendor with an author table where you can support my books, I am also a volunteer for the event so I’ll be kinda all over the place and I’ll be looking for YOU!

 

“Savor the taste of your triumphs today. Don’t just swallow the moment whole without digesting what has actually happened here.”

– Dr. Chadwick Boseman