Throwback Thursday Jam – You by Jesse Powell

Yep. Throwback Thursday is baacckk.

It’s so sad that Jesse passed a day after his birthday at just 51 years old. This is another example that life is short so live it and dance to this jam while at it.

American History by Michael S. Harper

As we get closer to September and the close of this year’s poetry contest, I will post more poems from other artists to help spark creativity. I hope you will use them as a guide as you write your own.

This year’s theme is Freedom, so we will focus on poems that are relatable to the topic.

Today’s featured poem is “American History,” by Michael S. Harper. Enjoy!

Photo by Emmanuel

Those four black girls blown up
in that Alabama church
remind me of five hundred
middle passage blacks,
in a net, under water
in Charleston harbor
so redcoats wouldn’t find them.
Can’t find what you can’t see
can you?

Source: Poets.org.


Don’t Know About the Poetry Contest? Click the Link Below to Enter for a Chance to Win Promotion, Interviews, and Cash Prizes.

Click Here!

Yecheilyah’s 5th Annual Poetry Contest 2022 + New Website

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Yecheilyah’s 5th Annual Poetry Contest 2022

Theme: FREEDOM

Submissions Accepted:

Thursday, July 7, 2022 – Friday, September, 30, 2022

Winners Announced:

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

About.

Yecheilyah’s Annual Poetry Contest is an online national and international poetry competition established in 2017 by award-winning author, book blogger, and poet Yecheilyah Ysrayl. The contest’s purpose is to find and celebrate the work of dope poets while raising awareness about the power of poetry.

Now in its 5th year, this is a contest essential for those serious about literary excellence.

We are now open for submissions.


Since 2017, we have hosted this contest right here on the blog. We will continue in the tradition of providing updates, author interviews, and all that jazz.

But as for the rules and guidelines, the contest now has its own website!

We accept poems (written, audio or video) from now through September 30, 2022. Our theme this year is FREEDOM. Head over to the website, subscribe to the list, and email your freedom poem before the deadline.

To learn more and to enter to win please visit us at www.yecheilyahsannualpoetrycontest.org/

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Let’s GOOO!!

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Deadline to Submit is 9/30/2022

Winners Announced on 11/1/2022

Check out our past winners!IMG_3347

Yecheilyah’s 1st Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2017

Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2018

Yecheilyah’s 3rd Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2019

Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2021

He Looked Like a Lifetime Supply

Photo by Collis from Pexels

He looked like a lifetime supply of confidence
black-gold wrapped in a Hershey’s kiss
like his soul had stretched up to the sun
this melanin-plated skin
When he shined, we were all shade
Sweat looked like honey dripping
from his brow
forming sweet golden pools
Look too closely, and he starts to look
like a lightening
his eyes two backpacks full of moon
and we scatter like children
looking for jars big enough
to capture the illumination of his essence
made up not of blood and bone
but stars
He looked like a lifetime supply of monuments
a dark sun-kissed body
full to the brim
with uncompromising
confidence.


The inspiration for this poem is from a poetry prompt I saw on IG on the topic of “He Looked Like a Lifetime Supply.”

What is Self-Publishing?

I did not plan on doing an IAB today, but a question on Twitter sparked a thought.

We talk about Self-Publishing, but what is it?

That sounds like a simple question, but you’d be surprised how many writers with questions about Self-Publishing don’t really know what it is.

Let’s start with what Self-Publishing is not:

Vanity Publishing

Vanity Publishing is not the same as Self-Publishing, and it is not the same as Traditional Publishing. When you pay a publishing company to publish your books, this is Vanity Publishing. Although not popular, I will not speak badly about VPs as this is an option for some authors. To each his own.

My only job is to help you understand what Self-Publishing is and what it is not. And at any time you pay a fee to a company to get your book published, this is not Self-Publishing

Also, if you are signed with a publishing company, this is not Self-Publishing.

Read your contracts thoroughly.

Self-Publishing is also not a “backup plan.” It is not something you do because you think it’s easier or faster. While an author can get their book published faster with Self-Publishing, this does not mean the author should aim to do so. If you rush your book, it will look like it.

Self-Publishing is when you are your own publisher—the end.

Now, what does that mean exactly?

Traditionally, a team of people works to get the manuscript ready for publishing, whether with a major publisher, small press, or vanity. They cover everything from editing to cover art and get paid in royalties.

This is what separates Trad from Vanity. Traditionally, publishers do not charge fees to publish. They get paid from the royalties of the book. However, there has been a lot of controversy about that, but we do not have time to discuss it. Let’s just say it is why many choose to go the Independent route.

Moving on…

Just like it’s the traditional publisher’s job to get the manuscript of their authors ready for publishing, it is your job as your own publisher to get your manuscript ready for publishing. 

This might mean hiring someone to assist you with the process, such as a self-pub assistant or coach, outsourcing for editing, cover art, and formatting.

With Self-Publishing comes total creative control. This can be both liberating and daunting. Essentially, Indie Publishing is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, you are in control of the look and feel of everything about your book. This can be a lot of fun.

But creative control does not mean doing everything yourself. You still need help. And because you are the publisher, you are responsible for hiring this help.

At the risk of sounding redundant, I will leave it here.

Self-Publishing in its most basic form is that you are your own publisher. You are not signed onto a publishing company or paying a publishing company to publish you. You hire your own people, outsource for what you need, and publish in your own name.


Need more Indie Author Tips? Check out the archive of posts here.

Things You Don’t Need to Self-Publish a Book

A Massive Social Media Following

You do not need to have a million social media followers to publish a book. Your community will grow as you do. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

A Fat Bank Account

You do not need to spend your rent/mortgage money to publish a book. This is not to say you won’t have to spend any money to publish your book. But, there are ways of investing in your book projects without going broke. I remember setting up a GoFundMe to pay for a book cover years ago.

To Be an English Scholar

You do not need to be an English Scholar to publish a book. This is not to say you should not care about English. It is to say that you don’t have to be an expert at it to begin. That’s what editors and proofreaders are for. This is also not to say that there aren’t experts and scholars who became such before writing a book. This is to say that if everyone waited until they knew everything before publishing a book, there would be very few books to read.

An LLC

We talked about this already in another post. However, I include it here because everybody on the internet says you need an LLC. You don’t. Whether your business structure should be a Limited Liability Company depends on the kind of business you have, and self-publishing doesn’t require one to get started. (And this is not to say you won’t want to create a business structure around your writing later on. Click here to read up on that in a previous post.)

24 Hours a Day

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to write all day to finish your book. You do not need to sacrifice time with your family or take days off work to write a book. You only need to manage your time wisely. A good 15-20mins a day dedicated to writing is enough to write a first draft manuscript. (Remember that your draft does not have to be 400 pages long).

You do not need more time. You need more discipline and consistency.

Remember…

Publishing the book is the easy part; the first step in a long process that gets better as you learn and grow.

Everyone’s journey is different, and the truth is the real work happens after the book is in print. Becoming an expert happens AFTER you have taken the first step, not before.


Need more Indie Author Tips? Check out the archive of posts here.

Indie Author Hack: Study Your Negative Reviews

Getting negative reviews on your book is a real heart-breaker. How dare they talk about your baby like that? I mean, you are obviously the best writer ever. Getting negative feedback on your book feels like a personal attack.

And not just for Indie Authors, but for all authors.

Sister Souljah got so many negative reviews for her latest release, Life After Death, that she was compelled to address it on Instagram, saying, “Stop crying about the death experience of WINTER SANTIAGA, AND START THINKING. STOP DEBATING and start reading.”

Please refer to this post for a full breakdown of my thoughts on this book.

A Review is Someone’s Opinion

The first part of studying a review is remembering that it is someone’s opinion based on their experience. Even professional reviews are expert opinions. We are not changing our voice or altering our style based on the views of fifty people.

We are only looking to see if this person’s opinion has any value we can learn from.

The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

“It was a little difficult discerning who exactly was talking or even who was who at the beginning. The scenes seem to always end at a cliffhanger. The premise is interesting, bit the follow through needs work.”

This is a two-star review of my latest novel, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen. The dialogue in my stories is strong, but my tense usage and POV need work. Because I know these are my weaknesses, this review has merit. 

Do I think it is so bad it deserved two stars? Of course not, but that doesn’t make the point invalid.

Use Your Discernment

Once the shock of the negative reviews has worn off, we can use the power of our discernment to see that not all critical feedback is hostile. Our wisdom will show us what part of the review is worth looking into and what part to let be.

While I will work on the point of view, I am not worried about ending scenes with a cliffhanger. I like it because it’s a good way to keep people reading.

In the words of bestselling author James Patterson, “At the end, something has to propel you into the next chapter.” This is the reason we are addicted to that TV show. We come back week after week because we are held in suspense. Cliffhanger endings are the hallmark of page-turner fiction or, in this case, binge-worthy shows.

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar: A Novella

“I enjoyed the premise of the story, but sometimes was a little thrown with whose point of view I was reading.”

See that? I cannot ignore this. It comes up repeatedly, which means it is a legitimate issue I need to fix. Now I know what to work on for my next book. I hope to hear fewer complaints about this in the future.

Authenticity

If we change the way we look at it, critical reviews are cause for celebration.

In this fake everything era, where people buy followers, engagement, and body parts, what we might consider a negative review is a good thing. Unless the negative reviews come from a hater who is trolling you, having a good mixture of good and “bad” reviews gives the book authenticity.’

This is so important to understand in the Indie Author community. There are some poorly written and produced books with nothing but five-star reviews.

How Detailed is the Review?

I have learned the more detailed the review is, the more likely there is something there. While “Excellent book” makes us feel good, explaining what made it an excellent book is more helpful.

In the same vein, commenting that a book was “terrible” does nothing for the author. What made it terrible? What are the ways the author can improve? What did not work for you?

“I wish I could get a refund. This will not get read this is a terrible book and she could have kept this.”

– Amazon Customer Review of Life After Death by Sister Souljah

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this is not a helpful review and the “she could have kept this” is unnecessary. This is the kind of review you do not have to spend your time trying to dissect. It offers no insight. I am sure Sister Souljah laughed it off.

Renaissance: The Nora White Story Book 1
“I think this author has much more to give. I felt as though she was dancing on the outskirts of the story, just giving the reader a little tease. With the author’s style of writing, I really think this book could be a nice, long novel, really delving into Nora’s life and her families past, followed with nice, long novels in the series.”
 

This reviewer has a good point worth considering. I definitely need to continue Nora’s story. I accept the reader’s thoughts here because they make sense.

Repetition in my writing is something I need to work on, so this reader’s thoughts have merit. Sure, it stings, but it is also true.

“Many of the poems have a good message. Liked the ones with imagination like Sabbath. But to really touch a heart, the thinking and framing should be less self-centered, in my humble opinion.”

My Brain: What?

This is an example of a review I didn’t bother to give much thought.

First, the self-centered part is confusing. Next, the reviewer is a white man who probably couldn’t discern the book is mainly about the collective Black experience more than anything. (He only gave it 3 stars) This one is another example of how you don’t have to worry about the negative reviews that don’t make sense.

But it also brings to my attention something I almost forgot to mention:

A book marketed to the wrong audience increases the likelihood of bad reviews.

If I buy a Historical Fiction novel that turns out to be a Romance, I will more than likely rate it low.

Going back to Life After Death, the book is marketed as urban fiction, but it would be more appropriate for the Paranormal / Sci-Fi or even religious fiction genre.

Unfortunately, the audience that loved The Coldest Winter Ever is not the same audience for Life After Death

This means as a Self-Publisher, identifying your target audience and marketing your books to that audience is critical. I am Soul will rate higher with Black women and Black people than anyone else because I wrote it for them. It doesn’t mean other people can’t read it or won’t read it. It means I increase the likelihood of positive reviews if the people I wrote the book for are reading it. 

All Reviews Matter

You do the author a great disservice when you decide not to review a book because you didn’t like it. You not only rob them of the chance to increase their reviews, but you also rob them of the chance to improve on their writing. And if you are an author and only want positive reviews, you are robbing yourself.

The purpose of reviews for any product or service is not to only talk about how good it is. Positive and negative reviews are helpful, though I use negative loosely here. The reviews that are off the wall and utterly ridiculous are reviews I consider negative. But, the critical thoughts that offer insight on how the author can do better are necessary for growth.

So, what to do the next time someone rates your book low?

First, be grateful. Many great writers have received negative feedback on their books. You are in good company.

Next, study the review itself. Is there something you need to work on? Or is the review not worth stressing over?

Click Here for more Indie Author Basics.