Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.
If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page herefor past episodes.
How other people view you is not a measurement of your worthiness. Both online and off, good decision or bad decision, right or wrong, your value does not change.
A Quick Story.
When I first moved to Georgia in 2017, I enrolled in Argosy University, Atlanta. This was before Covid, so I had on and offline classes. In one of my campus classes, we always did these exercises. In one activity, we were talking about hot personality, cold personality, and warm. We had to say which one we thought we were and why. A few of my classmates mentioned I was cold. This perplexed me because we had not known each other that long. When they said it, most of the class agreed.
I went home feeling down. Their words had seeped into my soul, and I questioned what made them think I was a cold-hearted person. Had I done something to them? Did I offend anyone? Had they heard something about me?
Then, I thought back to my childhood and realized this wasn’t anything new. I remember being told my twin would be a bride for Halloween and that I would be the devil. As a kid, I remembered thinking, “the devil?”
I laugh at it now, but it affected my self-esteem and how I thought of myself back then. This was not the only time, someone had also decided I would be a witch years prior. “A witch?” I remembered thinking. It was weird to me because my sister was some kind of animal. If we are twins, why am I a witch and she’s a cute kitten?
I was always referred to as “the mean twin,” and it affected how I felt about myself.
Going home after that class made me think of all these things, and I questioned if I was a good person.
What I’ve realized since then is how we tend to tie our self-worth to other people. We look at the way others perceive us, and we measure ourselves up to that image. That person doesn’t like me, so I am not a good person, or that person admires me, so I am a good person. This is especially true in the age of social media. This person I admire didn’t like my post, so I guess it wasn’t a good post, or this person did like it, so I guess it was good.
All of this is a lie.
The same worthiness you have when people think highly of you, or when you are winning and making the right choices, and being the best version of yourself is the same worthiness you still have when people think of you in a negative light, when you make mistakes, or when you are not your best self.
There is one truth, and it is the only truth that matters:
You are inherently worthy.
This worth does not need to be earned or won or acknowledged to exist. You have value and purpose the moment you enter this world. As the scripture says, “before I formed you in your mother’s belly I knew you, and I did set you apart.” (Jer. 1:5)
How other people perceive this set-apartness does not determine if it exists. It is there and was there from the very beginning.
I have had this post sitting in my drafts since October 2019. I didn’t want to publish it until I had tightened up my own business structure and then Corona hit and I thought, “Maybe this isn’t appropriate right now” and I put it off.I have a habit of meditating on what I have to do throughout the day before I get up from the bed. This morning I thought,“Wait a minute, this could actually be the perfect time to present this information.”
Even though there aren’t many people working and the world is sick, this could be the perfect time for us to plan, organize, and restructure some things. The other day we cleaned out a closet that had served as the junk closet since we moved in, and Moshe (Husband) organized the garage. These days, we are paying attention to things we have neglected to give much attention to. Why not include our writing business too? Whether you will use this information now or later, this is an excellent time to give it some thought.
In the Beginning
For Self-Publishing a book, things are relatively easy in the beginning. You create a KDP account, connect your bank account (so you can get paid your royalties) and you are set. You can also create a PayPal account to collect funds from books bought through your website or blog and get a card reader to accept payments on the go, such as at book signings.
UPDATE: Card readers are becoming more outdated as apps like Cash App and Zelle become increasingly popular. I highly recommend authors to have a Cash App for book signings and festivals.
Depending on your financial situation, it may be necessary to level up if you’ve been at this awhile.
How do you level up from this basic structure? How do you go from author to authorpreneur?
An authorpreneur is an author with entrepreneurial practices.
If publishing a book is like opening a business, you can do things to make sure you are running it like one.
It’s not 2008 and Self-Publishing is not what it used to be. The standards are higher.
Anyone can publish a book today (even if they aren’t good writers), by uploading a Word Document or PDF to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. In the past, this has brought down the quality of the prestigious process of book publishing and, specifically, Indie Book Publishing. Today, though, the stigma attached to Self-Publishing is fading, and authors who publish top-quality material are being separated from those who do not.
With the current Pandemic ravaging the world, realizing the value of Indie Publishing, social media, and doing business online is apparent now more than ever. A lot of brick and mortar bookstores are closed, and some will not reopen.
The basic system I started this post out as is good initially, but the Indie Author who goes beyond the bare minimum will set themselves apart from the pack.
Create a business name/structure that is legal and connected to a business bank account.
When your business grows, you will discover how important it is to have a legal business structure. It has done wonders for me and helps me keep up with how much is coming in and going out, which helps me have a realistic picture of my ROI or return on investment. You work hard to write these books, publish them and spend good money to get them out into the world. Don’t let all this hard work go to waste.
You can get away with using a Pseudonym or creative business name at first, but if you are serious about using that name for specific projects, you will need it to be legit. What happens if someone sends you a check in your fake business name and you have not made it legal? Without a business bank account in that name, you will not be able to cash it.
Decide if you want to be a Sole Proprietorship, LLC, Corporation, Non-Profit (if you publish books for charity) or any other structure that suits you.
* Most people do not recommend a Sole Proprietorship, but it will work just fine. I am all about keeping things simple.
Set up a business bank account – You can set up your bank account once you have your business structure in place and monitor just how much is coming in from your book sales and other author endeavors separate from other forms of income. You will get a business debit/bank card and checks to use for your business. You can even establish a line of credit.
Creating a business structure can motivate you because you get to see your writing as a real business and not just a fancy play-name. You can get logos made if you want and do transactions under this name which comes in handy when completing W-9 forms and other paperwork that may be required for you to get paid.
Stay Legally Compliant
With a business structure, you will need to keep your business compliant with state and federal business laws. The requirements will vary based on your business structure. (For instance, the conditions are more strict for corporations than LLC’s). An example is that you may have to file once a year with a filing fee of maybe $30 to stay in compliance. The process is not tedious, and you may even be able to do it online. For details on staying compliant, you can visit the small business administration website here.
If you don’t stay compliant your business will fall into an inactive status.
Publish Your Books Under Your Own Imprint
Once you have your legal business structure and business bank account in place, it is time to publish your books like you own your business.
Buy Your ISBNs – The ISBN is a unique identifier for a book issued by an ISBN registration agency. In the US, this agency is Bowker.* In some other countries, the ISBN is free, but in the US they are not. They are expensive, so it’s best to buy them in bulk if you can. You can buy a block of ten which would cover ten separate paperback or hardcopy books. KDP, Lulu, and other POD (Print on Demand) companies do provide ISBNs for free if you absolutely cannot afford to buy one
Free assigned ISBNs belong to the company that issues it, such as KDP or Lulu. This means they (KDP/Lulu/Other said company) are listed as the publishers of that book, not you.
*There are tons of fake ISBN companies out there. If you are in the US, be sure you purchase your ISBN from Bowker.
Once you have your own company, you will want to have your books listed under your company name. If you are the publisher, you should be listed as the publisher. If ownership is important to you, buying your own ISBNs is something you might want to look into.
With your company name legalized, your business structure secure, your EIN in hand, your bank account set up, and books under your ISBN, you have positioned yourself as a serious business person. It is now easier than ever for high-profile people to do business with you.
It’s easy to go the free route, but free is limiting, and it does not always set you apart. Creating an actual business complete with the necessary paperwork makes it easier for you to stay organized, file taxes, rise above the crowd, and stand out as a professional author.
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created. Don’t let scam publishing companies fool you by saying “Keep 100% of Your Copyright.” This means they are promising you something you already have. For publishing rights (different from copyright) all you have to do is buy your own ISBN. If you want to go the extra mile and register a copyright with the copyright office you can do that inexpensively at copyright.gov.
When tightening up your writing business, be sure you have both a paperback and a digital version of your book available.
I talk a lot about paperbacks because a). I have personally done better with paperbacks and b). authors can sell paperbacks through their own author website along with cool author swag and things instead of relying only on Amazon. However, that doesn’t negate the importance of having digital versions of your book available too. We are living in a digital age, and with everything being online, authors without digital books will be left out. Brick and Mortar bookstores without an online presence are struggling right now.
For those who sell paperbacks, consider lowering your print book price if you do not see sales. I love buying paperbacks from Indies, but a lot of them are also costly. I am not saying you can’t raise your price (I have a separate post about that here), that there aren’t people who will buy at that price, or that your book isn’t quality enough to sell that price.
I am only saying to be realistic.
Who is buying a $30 (plus s&h) 100-page paperback from an unknown first-time Self-Published Author?
Do what works for you, but make sure you are being practical.
When I first drafted this post, I watched a video of Tyler Perry advising entrepreneurs. I am not a big Perry fan, but when people are advising about business, I listen. Perry talked about entrepreneurs learning when to let go. Here,he meant letting go of business practices that no longer serve you once your business grows. He spoke of not being so used to how it has always been done that we are not open to change. For example, Perry’s sister used to keep receipts in a folder, but as Tyler’s business grew, that kind of accounting system no longer worked for taxes. Not when you have over 400 employees.
As professional Indie Authors, we must have the same mindset. This may not be ideal for everyone, but if you fit one of these categories a legal business name and account may be worth it:
You’ve been publishing awhile and you are making a significant income from your books and services.
You want to separate your personal funds (finances from your day job or other income) from your book business.
Want more Indie Author Tips? Visit the Indie Author Basics with EC page here!
My Author Presence online now looks like this. Please take note of the new twitter handle and Facebook Page.
My name is Michael Williams, or as I’m called in this wonderful world of the interwebs, Cerealsensei. I was born in Austin, Texas but I spent a large portion of my life in Baltimore, Maryland where I was raised.
What does Cerealsensei mean?
The name Cerealsensei represents two parts of my personality. I have a slight obsession with cereal, I would consider myself a cereal connoisseur of sorts. If it was possible to eat cereal for every meal and not have your sugar levels spike through the roof I would do it but unfortunately life isn’t fair.
Haha. Okay Cereal Connoisseur, what’s your favorite?
The greatest cereal of all time is Waffle Crisp, without question. Sadly I believe it was discontinued last year so if you didn’t have it after all these years then you missed out on greatness. So by technicality I guess Cinnamon Toast Crunch is now sitting on the throne.
Lol. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the bomb if I must say so myself. Let’s get back to the meaning of your name…
The Sensei part comes from me being the oldest in my group of friends. I watched a lot of martial arts films growing up. Normally the Sensei was an older an teacher who was always the voice of reason and tried to keep everyone in line. In a way that’s kind of how I am in my group of friends, the resident old head who’s just trying to keep order. So i just kind of combined the two and Cerealsensei was born. Also, since my real name is so common I had to add in a nickname so you could find me easily in a google search.
Got it. What do you love about yourself?
A few years ago I might not have even been able to answer this question. But I’ve come to love the weird quirks and off beat humor of my personality. I know I’m different, and I don’t say that to be pretentious or “artsy” but it’s true. I’ve become fully aware that I march awkwardly to the beat of my own drum and I get lost among the crowd. But it’s what makes me who I am and I wouldn’t change it even if I could.
That’s beautiful. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The Most Exciting thing?
The most exciting thing? The most difficult thing……I absolutely with all of my being despise editing. I dread it every time I have to do it, but it’s the most important part of the writing process in my opinion so it’s unavoidable. But it stresses my soul every single time. The most exciting thing would have to be that moment when you realize those crazy ideas you had in your head can actually become something tangible. That moment when you’ve got the words down on the paper in the exact way you wanted to and you can honestly be proud that you were able to flush that concept out into something readable. Ironically this happens a lot when you’re……editing, go figure.
What kind of music do you like?
Man, I could go on all day about this. Aside from writing music is a huge passion of mine. Now days I mostly listen to a lot of indie hip hop, Oddisee is probably my favorite rapper if I had to list one. But I appreciate all genre’s of music, they all bring something special to the table. Depending on my mood I’ll throw on some soul or R&B, then switch it up to some rock, something ambient or orchestral, I also love instrumental beat tapes which are great to listen to if you’re writing. One of the best things about the internet was it exposed me to so much music that I didn’t know existed, I spend a good amount of time doing what I call digital crate digging just trying to find new things to listen to.
When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
I published my first book on November 12, 2018. When I finally put it out it was an awesome feeling, a lot of weight fell of my shoulders on that day. To be honest, when I put it out I wasn’t so much worried about people loving it or hating it. Obviously, I hope they like it. But putting out that first book was for me to prove that I could start this process and see it through until the very end. This was an idea that started about five years ago, so it was awesome to finally be able to release it and check that goal off of my bucket list. Now it’s about repeating that process over again, and not having it take five years to do.
What genre do you write in, why?
I’m terrible with categorizing but for now I guess you could say comedic fiction, aimed generally at a younger audience. I wanted my first book to be something that anyone could pick up and relate to in some way. I don’t want to talk over anyone’s head, I’m not trying to make some crazy and profound statement with my writing. I just want you to be able to pick it up and have a good time, writing fiction allows me to do that.
You definitely achieved that. From the cover and blurb, the Oddball Chronicles looks like a fun read!
My future projects which will also include scripts I’m working on will be much darker though. I don’t want to get pegged into any box. I’m a scatter brain and that influences how I write. I”ll never stick to just one genre. The Oddball Chronicles will stand as it’s own thing, but everything afterward most likely won’t resemble it at all.
What was your childhood dream?
My first childhood dream was to become a chef. Ha, boy did I fail that dream miserably. But to my credit, I’ve gotten better around the kitchen. Having health issues made me learn how to cook so I wouldn’t eat out so much. I’m not the best cook by any stretch of the imagination but I can make some pretty decent salmon.
Love Salmon. Let’s talk about writing a bit more. What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?
This is a tough question. I think what I love is also what I hate. And that would be that there’s really no set playbook on how any of this works. You and I could both read the same writing advice and for you it might cause a light-bulb moment but my fuse will just blow out all together. It’s very cliché, but you really do have to find what works best for you.
I agree. What do you think of the world we live in?
It’s crazy, it’s out of control, some days I’m waiting for it to end. Whether it be Jesus coming back to take the wheel or an asteroid just wiping us all out. Everyday I see at least one news story or viral video that just makes me shake my head. But on the flip-side, the world still has it’s beautiful parts. There are still good people out here who are trying to do the right thing and push us forward. If nothing else, I love the creative boom that’s happening with content in terms of film, music and all of the other creative outlets. Underneath all of the madness there are some extremely talented people out here putting out great art and that’s what inspires me and keeps me going. I want to add my name to that conversation.
Why is writing important to you?
It’s the best way I know how to communicate. If I didn’t have it all of these wild ideas in my head wouldn’t leave, writing helps me give them a home so they don’t bother me for too long. Writing is a release for me and gives me a sense of accomplishment every time I do it. If I wasn’t writing I’d hate to think of where I’d be or what I’d be doing. Life wouldn’t be much fun without it.
Thank you Michael for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
My name is Michael Williams and I’m an independent author and podcaster currently living in Edgewood, Maryland. When I’m not writing stories or scripts you can find me obsessing over Mixed Martial Arts, playing video games and/or attempting to finish an anime (I have commitment issues). On November 12th, 2018 I released volume one of my short story series entitled The Oddball Chronicles. I wanted to write something that captured the growing pains of every day life and put my little off beat brand of humor on it. Hopefully if someone else reads it they’ll find it halfway entertaining, or possibly even learn something.
Welcome back to another No Whining Wednesday! If this is your first time visiting this blog or if you are new to this segment, please visit the original No Whining Wednesday post HEREto learn more OR the No Whining Wednesday Pageto access all previous episodes.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Those who screw up and keep going have failed so many times that they are equipped to handle disappointment and therefore have the maturity and resilience to get back up and try again. You got this.”
This was an inspirational word I posted to my social media early this week. I love quotes, inspirational, motivational and overall uplifting. There is something about the power of a positive word that can make you feel like you can conquer the world. When someone compliments you or gives you that good advice, something in your heart flutters and for a moment, all is right. This feeling may only last a second but in that time, all is right in the world. Or at least, in your world. This is so vital and so needed because there are not a lot of people investing good into the world. There are not a lot of people building up.
But, despite how much I love inspiring quotes and how much I read them, something struck me this week. While inspirational quotes from others is nice, there’s nothing wrong with using our own words to inspire others as well. Your experiences are unique to you. Your pain is unique to you. Your happiness is unique to you. Your life is your own. That is not to say there’s no power higher than you (ya’ll know better) but you have to walk these shoes is what I am saying. You have to plant these seeds.
That said, don’t sleep on yourself. You have the wisdom that comes from living and with that something to offer the world but if you never allow your voice to be heard, it can be drowned out by the voices of others.
What if I don’t know enough?
That has nothing to do with it. You don’t have to be perfect to share something that may help others. Personally, I am moved by realness. I want to know about real life situations because your struggles and how you overcome them is what connects you with other human beings. People who talk about their issues and how they’re dealing relate more to others than those who are somewhere in heaven.
Instead of relying so much on the words of others, sometimes it’s OK to give of our own pearls.
Every now and again, use the power of your own experience to inspire others and to lift yourself up. After all, it is what the people we quote have done themselves. They didn’t speak thinking we would quote them. They spoke because it was necessary and now their words have lived on throughout the centuries.
The door to the patio is open, and the screen door shields me from the insects that I may enjoy the brisk caress of the wind on my skin. And as I inhale the fresh taste of the evening air, enjoying the end of a peaceful day, I think about the genuine that often come from writing. You’d have to excuse the poetic tone of this post. It’s my thinking voice I suppose. The one I use when I’m writing this down in my journal before typing it, twirling the pen between my fingers and tapping it against my lips while staring out in space. Anyway, back to something genuine. To think back on my own writing or to read someone else’s, I feel often that there’s a realness here. Somewhere between the heart and spilled ink is an authenticity few will express verbally. Something about speaking without moving our lips causes us to speak the truth of our hearts. Something about writing it down instead brings about a depth. Something about the movement of mental messaging brings out the emotional intensity many will not express otherwise. I wonder if this is why writing is often associated with therapy. For what is not spoken is often written. Not that everyone writes for such a purpose, but it is historical that writing is an exercise that has caused many to heal or to reveal or stumble upon truths otherwise unknown or not dealt with. Something about how the subconscious mind is uprooted when we write. It is an interesting thought I sought to share before the memory or moment escaped me. Speaking of escape, it’s time I publish this post and retire this laptop for the night. I’ve got laundry to finish and this breeze sure feels good.