If We Were Having Coffee Right Now

This is a stock photo because Coffee never looks this perfect in real life.

Good Morning! Or afternoon or evening. OK, whatever. Hi!

I’m having coffee so I thought we were long overdue for a chat. It’s been awhile since I just talked to you guys. I mean outside of blog segments, interviews, fun facts, blah blah blah. Soooo, how you? (as the country folk say).

So, go get your coffee or tea …

(…even though it really wouldn’t be a coffee date. Bringing tea to a coffee date is a little weird but we won’t judge you…pull up a chair) and let’s talk about life.

I’m doing well and if we were having coffee right now I would tell you there’s a lot going on, because of which I am not sure how often I’ll be posting probably for the next few weeks as we get closer to  launch day (wow, it’s that time again!), well, outside of author interviews that is. Those are scheduled and will continue to post every Monday. I’ll also still be guest blogging so you’ll see me around.

Currently, I am getting ready for Chicago in two weeks. I have a lecture to attend and while there I intend on getting some word of mouth going about my soon-to-be release. I grew up in the Chi so there’s ample opportunity to pass out some cards. Speaking of which, book one in The Nora White Story will go up for preorder…..soon. Thought I was gonna tell ya huh? Nope. Not yet.

If we were having coffee right now I’ll tell you that I am also preparing for The Tampa Indie Author Book Convention in July and that I am not sure if Hubby can tag along or not (boo). His schedule is kinda hectic. If not I will need a personal assistant to accompany me. The last time I did something live I totally forgot to take lots of pictures. That is NOT happening this time.

(Can’t sign books and take pictures at the same time. Oh, wait, maybe you can?? I better patent this idea before someone else figures it out and it’s on the next commercial for 39.95).

Anyway, things are kinda crazy so I’m hoping that I can still make it myself while I’m talking hee hee. Keep hope alive.

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If we were having coffee right now I would say that I am totally thinking about attending the U.S. Blogapalooza in Chicago on Aug. 26. I want to go because a. It’s not expensive to attend and b. I grew up in Chicago so it’s nothing for me to take another trip out there and c. I want to get as much travel in as I can this year. Time to step on out the shell you guys. Kinda. I’ll kinda still be in my shell when you see me…

I’m also supposed to get some kids this summer so I’ll have to see how this will work. If I time it just right I can drop them off on my way to the Blogapalooza.

(The best thing about being a TT is that you can hype them up on fun and then drop them off to mommy and daddy when you get tired of them. #Winning)

I got some nephews who are supposed to come down to irritate entertain me. In fact, I got a baby who will be here tomorrow. Well, OK, that’s not fair. BJ’s not a baby anymore. Technically he is ready to be potty trained. Yay for wearing the big boy draws!

Let’s see here what else? I am on the finishing end of book two in The Nora White Story but since Book One isn’t out yet I won’t speak much about it although I am loving it if I must say so myself. I don’t wanna make book one jealous or anything but I’m just so into the second half of the story. I may even consider, once both books are out, an ultimate special edition where the books are combined. Yaass.

If we were having coffee right now I would say that I am almost ready to reopen for new book review submissions.

BUT I am keeping it very limited this time around and only accepting a handful.

Anyway, be looking out for that announcement.

If we were having coffee right now I would say that my coffee is almost gone and I’ve already spent 20% of my time on this blog so it’s time to go.

See you around.

Sky

Who can regret the chill of the wind and the smell of the air in the spring when the sun sets? I love it when the heavens bleeds crimson with splashes of leftover daylight prophesying hints of yellow like screaming oracles; burnt orange clouds cementing inside the belly of the sky. The way that birds defy the darkness to find refuge in the path of light, soaring on the backs of colors like they were some tangible thing and beige highlights swinging low like sweet chariots. Even the wind rejoices in the shadows of the rest of the sunlight bouncing off the concrete, hoping to capture as much of its essence as possible before it retires into its chamber. Whether you’re driving home from work or sitting on the front porch mesmerized by the cool wind, the silence of nightfall and the sky, it’s the little things that bring calm. Let it fill your empty. Turn your distress into dancing, solemn into singing. Good night.

How can we encourage more readers to leave reviews for our books?

Excellent idea from Sally on encouraging reviews. I think some people think leaving a review means writing a literary critique. A small reminder that it is just them leaving their opinion about the book is most excellent.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

I am very keen to make reviews a prominent feature of the book promotions and encourage readers to review the books that they buy and enjoy, or not as the case may be.

Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool that anyone who is selling a product benefits from. Authors are no different, and our books tend to be judged by the number and quality that they have received.

Part of the problem is that those who are not writers of books or blogs are uncomfortable in offering reviews and feel that what they have to say is not important. Many who do review a book, leave just one line after their star rating, simply saying that the reader enjoyed or disliked a book, but they do not elaborate.

That is obviously very welcome. But whilst a potential reader does not want to read three pages filled…

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Embedding Amazon Previews on Your Website

Nice.

Story Empire

Hello, SEers! Harmony here 🙂

Recently, I had to update my webpage to reflect a book release due out soon. I realised that I had forgotten completely how to make the book previews that I’d done for my other books, lols. So, good old Google came to the rescue. Then I thought that it might be useful for folks if I outlined the process of Embedding Amazon Book Previews into your website here. If you know all this already, then of course feel free to ignore me! The other benefit of sharing this is that, in writing it all out, it might actually embed in this brain of mine! (Miracles have been known to happen.)

Happily, unlike donating digital gifts (including ebooks), this feature works on both Amazon UK as well as Amazon US. Yay! (Sorry, but being in the UK, that’s one of my gripes, ha ha.)

Anyhooooo …

View original post 426 more words

7 Things I Learned about Email List Building

I’ve learned so far that there’s a lot more to building an email list than getting people signed up. I’ve had an email list for years but I feel that only now am I starting to really understand how it works. A little. OK so maybe I just have an inkling of an idea. Who knows but it’s a start.

While having one is great, building an email list and the upkeep is not easy! OK, well, it’s not hair-pulling difficult but it does take some tending to. I don’t want to scare anyone away. It’s not brain surgery or anything like that but I guess that’s why they call it “building”. You don’t build anything over night. There are lots of steps and parts to keeping an email list updated and valuable.

(Click Here to read 7 Common Sense Reasons You Should Build an Email List)

Here are some things I learned, or I should say I am learning, about the email list:

  1. More Subscribers Mean Little to Nothing

At first, I was concerned with getting more subscribers. I mean, that’s a start, right? Yes and no. Yes because of course I want readers. No because that’s just the beginning.

I learned that getting people to subscribe, as challenging as it can be, turned out not to represent as much of the process as I’d thought. While getting subscribers is great, you should know that it’s never a guarantee that people will:

  1. Stay subscribed to your list (people can unsubscribe anytime)
  2. Open the emails you send
  3. Click on your links
  4. Support your product / service

One of the first lessons I am learning in my continual quest to better understand list building is that subscribers mean little to nothing in the grand scheme of things. It is not so much how many people are on the list so much as it is how many of these people are engaged: open emails, read the content, click links and offer feedback. Are they part of my target audience or just taking up space? Are they at all interested in what I have to say?

I’ve learned that an email list of only ten people on it in which eight are engaged and supporting is better than a thousand who can care less.

2. The “From” Address – Use the name that is the most popular and noticeable to your readers

When setting up an email list, part of the process is to enter a “From” Address or the name you want to appear as the person the email is coming from. For the two years or so of sending emails through Mail Chimp I used Literary Korner Publishing, my business name and all was well.

Toward the close of last year, I decided to do something different. I stopped using my business name and used my name, Yecheilyah, instead. I wanted to see if my open and click rate would increase. It did. It worked because it is the name most familiar to my readers.

3. Email – Use a business email address

Another thing I started off with is using my personal Gmail account as the email linked to my list. When setting up an email list, you’ll also have the option of choosing where the emails will come from / people can reply to. In the beginning, it was my Gmail account. I have since changed this.

Toward the close of last year I changed my email. It required an upgrade but it was worth it. It does look more professional but I’ll be honest in saying I didn’t do it for how it would look. I did it to make sure my emails aren’t going into my subscriber’s spam folders. As a result, my open rates did increase. I didn’t get a snapshot so you’ll have to take my word for it. I’ll remember to snag some images next time.

What’s a good business email address?

Your name (at) your domain name dot com (yourname@yourdomainname.com)

4. Headline – Choose a headline that will speak to your list

I didn’t start off paying much attention to my email list headline. If people opened the email they opened it. If not, oh well. That’s how I saw it.

And then I grew up…

I am not doing this for my health which means that it does matter if people are finding value in the content or not and if I am seeing a return as a result. So, I started to pay more attention to the Headline of my emails or the title that people see that tells them what the email is about. It didn’t occur to me that if this didn’t speak to them there would be no reason to open the email! Yikes.

Somehow, I’d taken it for granted that people, though signed up, are not obligated to open and read the content. I thought about blogging and how important the title of the blog post is. (Click Here for 5 Creative Ways to Headline Your Blog Post) I decided to apply this to my list.

Just like someone must be interested enough to click on the blog and read it, someone must also be interested enough in the email headline to open the email and read it.

The headline is the first clue to the reader on what the email is about. If it is something they can care less about, they will not open the email. I have noticed that putting more thought into my email headlines has increased the open rates as well. Meaning, more people are opening the emails and clicking on the links. (A decent open rate is anywhere from 30-55%. It means that most of your list is seeing every email. But do not expect everyone on your list to be engaged. I’ve learned that even if only 20% of my list is communicating with me, that’s good).

5. Dividing the List – Sub divide your list by interest

I really didn’t want to do this. The only reason I can think of is laziness. I didn’t feel like splitting anyone up and sending more than one email.

And then I grew up…

I have recently began the first process of dividing my list and I feel good about it so far! The feedback alone told me a lot about the people who open and read my emails and gave me an idea into what it is they each want. Right now, I am only working with two lists and it was interesting to see who fell into which group.

Monthly – My monthly email list is compiled mostly of people who have either known me for years (at least more than two years but also as long as ten), enjoy getting everything summarized into one list, or who I know have busy schedules and don’t feel like being bothered with me more than once a month. They know me too well.

Bimonthly – My bimonthly email list, which is much smaller, is compiled mostly of people who have met me recently (anywhere from one week to one year ago), open my emails regularly and give the most feedback, are interested in emails about inspiration and motivation, and who like their emails smaller.

I loved the process of dividing them up! It was fun and helped me to focus on every single subscriber and to get to know them on a more personal level based on their interest.

6. Less is More – Limiting the Creative Mind

I consider myself a boring person outside of writing. But when I am writing and putting together emails I love colors and images! I love doing different things and experimenting. I love being silly and using my cartoon avatar. However, I have since pulled back a little with this.

Maybe I’m just getting older or I just know better but I cut a lot of that out. My avatar remains but outside of this I’ve limited the number of images used, switched to a basic theme with a white background and toned down the colors. While I’d love for my email to look like a magazine spread, images increase the possibility of spam as well and too much going on is distracting. The white background on the other hand made everything pop and it is easier to read.

7. Removal – Taking people off your email list

What? You mean I did all that work to get people signed up and now I have to…take them off?

Yea, pretty much.

It took my numbers down a notch but I feel that the cleaning will do me some good. I am not interested in having people subscribed who really don’t want to be there or who are just there to spy, just for the sake of numbers. That’s never been me. One thing I am sure everyone should do every now and again is to clean up their email list.

This means to go through the list and either (1) reach out to or (2) remove altogether those emails belonging to people who never open your emails or interact with you at all. I imagine they see the emails and trash / spam them but for whatever strange reason they don’t unsubscribe. Or maybe they subscribed because you had a contest or offered something for them and now that they got it they’re no longer interested. Whatever the reason, it’s their business. Growth is not just about gaining. It’s about losing too. I believe trimming the weeds will help me to grow and I will soon have twice as much support as I’ve had to lose.

The point is that I want people on my email list who want to be there. Not people who are just there to spy or be nosy. They hate my guts but they open every email. That doesn’t make any sense. I also don’t want people on my list who never open a single email but they won’t unsubscribe. I don’t understand why they are there.

Even when people unsubscribe themselves, I’ve learned this is not a bad thing. It literally does me no good to have people around who don’t want to be. This is a business not a hobby. Whatever is not contributing to growth has gotta go. Don’t be afraid to get rid of dead weight.

When I look at my list today I feel good. I know that the people subscribed want to be there and if they ever feel bored, I hope they will just unsubscribe. That’s just the realness of it. You win some, and you lose some but you live. You live to fight another day. Yes, that’s from the movie Friday. It doesn’t have anything to do with this article but I thought I’d leave you with a chuckle. Or not.

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Interested in being part of my crew? They’re great! Emails go out once or twice a month based on your preference. CLICK HERE to sign up and thank you!

Moments Become Memories

Don’t waste it today. Don’t waste your time or hold back your goodness. Do not withdraw your kindness or take for granted the gratitude you can gift to someone else. Gift someone today. Crown them with hope and courtesy. Who knows which of us will be called back to the dirt. Whose breath will leave their lungs to be stored away in the chamber where breaths are. Whose body will melt back into the dirt? Whose bones  will become the home of carcasses that roam the cemeteries? We are told to live every day like it is our last. But how? How do we take what is cliché and make it real? Think of moments. How they live for only seconds at a time. Think of pictures. How they capture those moments when they become memories. Don’t gamble with your life today. Enjoy the warm weather, accept the truth for what it is, and apologize. Apologize and forgive like a well of “I’m Sorry’s” that won’t run dry anytime soon. Be not held captive by anything or anyone. Do not enslave yourself to pain and emotion and sorrow. Always be forgiving. If only because it makes no sense to give us flowers when we’re gone. Do not weep for me, or throw arms around caskets that could have hugged my flesh when breath stopped the skin from melting back into the earth. Don’t waste it today. Don’t waste your time or hold back your goodness from those who need it. You don’t know if today is their day or if it is yours. Because moments only live for seconds at a time and soon they become memories.

The Perfect Piece

poetry-and-types-of-poetry

Repost for World Poetry Day.

 

To the lyrically talented
the brave who do not stop at sing-song
and music
but poems whose words themselves
are like melody
like the rhythm of rocking chairs
like serenity
like soldiers stomping truth into the torso of the earth
like Assata’s
like revolution
like Maya Angelou’s
and Ntozake’s
perfect like marching orders
like biblical
like Deborah’s
and Sara’s
like faith
and the wisdom of the eyes
the fire of truth
the sweet delicate of love
real love
the perfect piece

I anxiously anticipate undressing you
pulling back the symbolic layers of your metaphors
and deciphering your definitions
your rhymes curve perfectly around the waist of melodies
and swim better than oceans
you taste
why you taste like deserts springing forth with water
like tongues taste new wine
bringing the heat of our passion together
like fire to chocolate
like when bodies melt
and pens bleed both love and pain
you give birth to both truth and wisdom
the perfect lyric over a tight beat
you’re
the perfect piece