Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish Part 2: Not Preparing Financially

I once paid $300 for a book cover. At the time, I couldn’t afford to spend that kind of money on a cover. Not only did I not have the money, but even if I did, I couldn’t afford to invest it into a book cover when there were, as I saw it, much more severe priorities in front of me. But, I was young and excited, and I wanted to publish this book, and I wanted that cover.

But I was broke, broke.

So, what did I do?

I set up a GoFundMe.

I went around to people I knew and explained my vision and why I was raising the money. I (and get this) talked to people.

And I don’t like talking to people.

Not only did I make enough to purchase the cover I wanted, but I also made that money right back at a Book Signing in Chicago.

It was 2014, and we were at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel. I had just released my first screenplay, which, interestingly enough, is the book that inspired The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen.

I made that $300 back and then some.

You might be thinking, “But, EC, if you couldn’t afford to pay for a book cover, how did you cover editing?”

I didn’t. I had a friend edit the book, which is why it is retired today.

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Photo by Annelies Geneyn on Unsplash

Self-Publishing is an area where the term, Proper preparation prevents pissed poor performance holds much weight. We don’t talk about it enough, but financial planning is part of the basics of Self-Publishing.

Self-Publishing requires a mindset shift regarding how you feel about yourself and how you look at your finances. One of the first things I’ve noticed in my journey is that most first-time Self-Publishers haven’t decided if they are publishing this book for themselves or publishing the book for others to read.

Did I confuse you there? Read on.

Publishing for Yourself vs. Publishing a Book that Sells

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Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Publishing a book for yourself means you fulfill your dream of becoming a published author and want to give copies away to family and friends. It means you are not selling the book or wanting to create a business out of it; rather, you want to satisfy a desire for something you’ve always wanted to do.

In this case, it would not be necessary to put a lot of money into this project, mainly because you are not getting the money back through sales since you are not selling the book. You may decide to get your book cover made using a cover template from KDP or Lulu or a homemade cover from Canva. You might choose to have a friend edit the book for you or use free software for formatting. This would be sufficient for a book you don’t want to sell. There are tons of economical ways to publish a book for this purpose.

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But, suppose you are publishing this book because you want to leverage your business, spread your message and get it into as many hands as possible. Suppose you are a speaker and want to sell copies at your event, see your book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble or get the book stocked at bookstores, libraries, and schools.

What if you are writing this book because you want other people to read it?

In this case, you must prepare for this journey from the mind of a business person and not only an author.

When you publish a book you intend to sell, you consider other factors outside of what you want from the book because this book isn’t only for you. You think about building a platform, the market, and you consider the financial obligation necessary to bring the vision forward. 

This isn’t to say write a book that doesn’t speak to your soul. It means you publish a book that speaks to your soul and the soul of others. It means you are publishing a book you see is needed in your community.

“You may have a robust knowledge of quantum computing but if everything the audience wants from you is how to use Microsoft Excel, give them just that. You write no book about quantum computing until you are able to build an audience around it.

Most self-published authors don’t do this. They do the exact opposite. They write what they like and try to figure out how to shove it down people’s throats.”

-David O, Entrepreneurs Handbook

Publishing a Book You Want to Sell Requires A Financial Investment

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Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Spending money on your book is only an investment if you have put a strategy in place designed to ensure how you will sell this book. This, in my experience, is the difference between publishing for yourself and publishing a book for other people to enjoy as well. Many authors who venture into Self-Publishing ignore the market, so the book doesn’t sell outside of close family and friends because they have written a book no one wants to read. 

When was the last time you bought a book by an author you have NOT been following for some time, on a subject you really don’t care about?

This is called Indie Author Basics because we focus on laying a strong foundation (a well-written and packaged book) to make it easier to build everything else on top of it. Too many new Indie Books are not attractive, not well-written, poorly produced, and is about topics no one cares about. As a result, the average self-published author makes less than $1,000 per year, according to a survey by Guardian in 2015, and a third of them make less than $500 per year.

What does this have to do with preparing financially?

When authors publish books they intend to sell for reasons outside of themselves, they are mentally prepared to invest the time and money to produce a high-quality product because they know they will get a return on their investment if done right.

Again, an investment isn’t just putting your money into something. Investing is putting your money into something you know will yield a return, either financially, mentally, or spiritually. It is the act of allocating resources with the expectation of generating an income or profit.

That’s why we had to talk about if you want to even publish this book to sell it first because not everyone wants to publish a book to sell it, but for those who do, financial investment is necessary.

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My dope $300 cover for my first screenplay

My books do not sit on the shelves with major traditionally published books (and sell) because I’m the best writer or because I have the best books or even the best marketing strategy. I also put good money into producing my books, among other things. I wasn’t going to say this, but it needs to be said that I practice what I preach.

It also needs to be said I am on a budget just like most of us, but I prepare early for this so that what I do invest into publishing my book isn’t coming from the money I need to grocery shop or pay bills. It is coming from the money I have saved and put away specifically for this project since I first decided I will publish the book. That’s how seriously I take my writing.

I am not saying spending lots of money on your book will guarantee sales. It won’t. You first have to publish a book people want to read.  (Although I got my money back from what I spent on the cover from the screenplay, the book did not continue to sell after that.) But, after that, making sure the book is well packaged plays its part too.

I am also not telling you to sell a leg to publish your book. There is nothing wrong with finding economical ways to publish (premade covers are cheaper than custom made), but if you try to find the cheapest way possible or skim on editing because you don’t want to put in the work, it will only cost you more in the end.


CLICK HERE FOR MORE INDIE AUTHOR BASICS WITH EC!

It’s Okay to Begin Again

I have not been as active on this blog as I need to, but know if you see me less, that’s because I’m doing more!

Although I have not published much, I have a bit I am working on, including a new potential author client preparing to release her book (throws invisible confetti), part two to #TWWBE (Yep. Surprise), the anthology for Black History Fun Fact Friday, and tons of articles sitting in my drafts, waiting to be picked to go next.

Poor babies. Mommy has not forgotten you. I hope to get part two of Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish out this week, time permitting.

Today, I want to give you an update remixed with a lesson I’ve learned in the process.

I am starting over with my email list, and I am deleting my Business Facebook page at the close of this year.

I have had the same author email list since 2015, and hard as it was for me to accept, I don’t have the same audience. Much has changed between then and now.

I received good email opens but very little engagement. It started to feel like people were watching me, although they were no longer interested in what I had to offer. I got little feedback which made drafting and sending emails less fun. I was also getting a lot of spam sign-ups. That’s when I knew it was time for a change.

This morning, I deleted everyone from the old list* except for the two people who emailed me a reply to say they are interested in being on the new list.

*This is not my poetry list, but my general author list. If you are subscribed to the poetry list, you are good!

I started to backtrack, though. Building an author email list isn’t easy, and neither was deleting over four hundred emails I’ve worked hard to accumulate over the years. I started to send one final email asking people to reply if they are interested in being added to the new list.

Then, I realized this was an excuse to hold on a bit longer.

The truth is the interested people had already told me as such, and I had to accept that.

It is also true quality will always be better than quantity.

In the end, it didn’t matter how many people were signed up. What mattered was who was engaging. How is it only two people replied to me? I decided this was unacceptable.

I also decided to change my strategy. It is not lost on me my part in this. I’ve struggled with my list for some time, and I hope to become better at it.

And instead of deleting my email list altogether, I am starting over. I still believe in the value of the author’s email list, especially in light of how many people have their social media pages deleted.

The lesson can be summed up in the following quote:

“You get to change your mind about things that are no longer aligned with or supportive of your growth.”

– Alex Elle

Simply put, it’s okay to begin again.


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Overcoming the Anxiety to Show Up: A Message to Introverted Indie Authors

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I am from Chicago, where kids paid close attention to the shoes you were wearing after winter break.

Everybody was checking to see who was wearing something new. See, in the hood where money is scarce, you got your best clothes and shoes around Christmas, so when kids come back from break, everybody is looking to see what you got on.

I walked into my eighth-grade classroom with my all-blue suede Timbs (what we called Timberland boots), and I didn’t like the way everyone’s eyes noticed them.

The same thing happened in High School.

I grew up poor and didn’t start wearing name-brand shoes until the second round of sixth grade. While I loved Air Force Ones, I had never owned a pair of Jordans.

It wasn’t until High School I owned a pair and joined the other “cool” kids and experienced what it was like to sit on the pedestal of those who wore Jordans.

And I didn’t like it.

I wished I hadn’t worn those shoes. I liked them a lot, but I didn’t like the attention they garnered. I also didn’t like being like everyone else. I quickly realized I wasn’t a Jordan-wearing type of person. As I got older, I learned I am not all that into gym shoes (sneakers if you are not from the Chi) in general. I wear them, and I have them (and I like looking at the different styles), but my personal style is more casual.

But anyway, those Jordans were my first and only pair.

Here’s the truth:

I don’t like the spotlight. Despite what I do for a living, I am not an “out there in front” kind of person, and I get embarrassed easily because I’m shy.

Just as Moses did not want to go to the Pharaoh and tell him to let his people go at first, I do not always want to show up.

But at some point, Moses had to obey the voice that spoke to him and fulfill his purpose which is why I show up despite the quiver in my chest.

Maya Angelou said courage is the most important of all virtues because, without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently.

You can’t be consistently kind or loving, or generous. You can be these things for a time, but not consistently because there is no endurance without courage.

When the threat is too much, you will quit if not for courage. So, while everyone is afraid, those who are courageous go on despite the fear.

“I do what I hate to do, but I do it like I love it. That’s discipline.”  Mike Tyson

What Tyson isn’t saying:

Settle for a life that does not bring you joy.

What Tyson is saying:

Even while doing what you love, there will be moments where you have to be disciplined to accomplish a goal, and this won’t be fun, but it will be worth it.

Quick Tips.

Stop Predicting What Other People Are Thinking

I am pretty sure we are all guilty of this!

The biggest stumbling block to showing up is thinking about what other people would think of you. We make up these stories in our head about what we expect to happen and what we think other people are thinking.

Tell yourself a different story than the one in your head.

People do love you and think about you often.

Readers do want to read your book, and they do care about your story.

People want to hear from you more than you think.

You do matter.

I mean, I know you’re a genius and all that, but you can’t predict what people are thinking. You just cannot do that to yourself.

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“But I don’t want people to think…”

This is a phrase we should all work to eliminate from our vocabulary, and I admit, I have work to do myself. When we say things like this, we are expecting a response that may or may not even be real.

“I don’t want to post about my book because I don’t want people to think ________.”

If you don’t tell people about it, how are they supposed to know it exists? What about this instead:

“I am so excited to tell people about my new book!”

I notice the more I am excited about something, the more excited the people around me are. Take the smile test for example.

Look at someone and smile. I bet you they are going to smile back. If they are extra silly like me, they might even laugh. Then you will laugh, and neither of us knows what’s funny.

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One of my favorite quotes is:

“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

Anticipate the best possible outcome instead of the worst.

Release the Need to Know.

Trying to control the outcome is like trying to catch the wind. Get excited about what you don’t know and all the possibilities of a new experience. You don’t need to know the outcome to start.

You Don’t Have to Say Yes to Everything.

You don’t have to drink from every cup handed to you. That’s how you get poisoned. You are only required to accept those things that speak to your soul, nothing more and nothing less. If it does not set your soul on fire, you don’t have to do it.

This, saying no, is more than turning down offers, although that’s important too. Saying no is also about not feeling obligated to do what everyone else is doing, think as everyone else is thinking, or move how everyone else moves.

Saying no is not wearing Jordans if you really don’t like them.

Another quick story.

In my early teens, fifteen-sixteen-ish, my brother spray-painted hats and t-shirts for the neighborhood. He did stuff like this all the time because he’s an amazing artist. He even designed clothing for the entire cheerleading team. Anywho, my brother spray-painted my and my sisters’ and cousin hats to match our shirts. That’s how I got into wearing hats that summer. Eventually, my sisters and cousin let go of the hat thing, but I would still wear mine even at school. My twin thought I looked like a boy, but I wasn’t a tomboy. I just liked the hat.

My High School Pen Pal Program. Me in front, rocking my spray-painted hat and a blue long-sleeve underneath my short sleeve because I was cold, lol.

Saying no is also about not denying a part of yourself because of what other people think.

This means knowing ourselves well enough to know what we want and don’t want.

Sometimes, we accept things we don’t like, things that are not inherently us, and things we are not comfortable with because we don’t know ourselves, and that’s another discussion altogether.

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It can be hard to show up when you are naturally more laid back and reserved, but I challenge you to push yourself. The best way to get used to doing something is to get out there and do it, and the more you do that thing, the easier it’ll be.

And being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean that you are shy, although many shy people are introverted. 

I took an online quiz before posting this. My results say I am an introvert (not surprised) with the following traits:

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  • You crave alone time. Having time to think, private space, and quiet time helps you feel rested and whole.
  • People can drain you. Even the most well-meaning people can pull a lot out of you. You can absolutely do social situations; they just take a lot of energy.
  • When socializing, you like to observe before partaking. You like to think before you speak and have one-on-one conversations rather than speaking in groups.

You can take your own quiz at: https://www.scienceofpeople.com/introvert/  (And it’s free)


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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

– Marianne Williamson


The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen is here! CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR COPY!

The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen is LIVE

The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen is live!

About.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.


“Paschar walked with confidence and held her head high as she moved her hips from side to side. Red was her most favorite color to wear with this skin. Something about the hue against this dark body is so different from her true form and more comfortable to navigate the Earth. Who wanted to be invisible to humans when it was easier to seduce them in the skin of a beautiful black woman? Passersby, men and women alike, looked, and Paschar smiled. They always stared. Humans were fascinated by blue, crystal pupils against such brown, creamy skin. In real life, Pas thought human bodies were disgusting. She hated the soft, gooeyness of the flesh, how it bruised and bled so quickly, how it fell apart and crumbled with each passing day. She hated the rotting meat on the bone, but she did come to love dark skin tones. Other pigments didn’t make her heart beat like melanin.”

– From Chapter 7, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

“Tina walked out of the door as her body trembled. She knew Big Sam had blue eyes, and Ronnie’s death was no accident. They had murdered her nephew, were back, and killing again.”

– From Chapter 3, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

We sold out of signed paperbacks on the site, but no worries! You can still order a paperback from Amazon. The next round of signed copies will be restocked soon! Be sure to bookmark my website below so you don’t miss it!

You Don’t Have to Do What Everyone Else is Doing

I like following authors on Social Media who post about things other than their books. I wanna know that you are human and alive, that you laugh and experience pain and joy and all those other emotions.

I don’t care for how neat your Instagram page is or how color coordinated you can make it. I don’t care about every post being your book cover or matching your book cover. Yayy for your book, but after a while, that gets boring without a balance.

What’s your favorite food? What was the last movie that made you cry? How did you get into writing? What books are you in love with? How ya mama doing?

If you like to joke, joke. If you a nerd, be a nerd. Do what works for you, not what the self-proclaimed guru says is important. (Personally, I can’t stand the fun police 😒.)

This post came randomly as I am supposed to be taking a break, but ya’ll know I can’t sit still. The point of it all is you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.

Now, let me go back to watching Soul Food. I’ll have an update post for you soon. It’s been a while since we’ve had a coffee date anyway.


BTW, the last day to enter this year’s poetry contest is tomorrow! Click Here for details on entering.

Unless you live in Chicago, it can be nice one day and then cold and rainy. In this case, stay warm smh lol.

The Enemy of Poetry

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I am not at all surprised I am enjoying Cicely Tyson’s memoir, Just as I am. While I am not an actor,* I try to learn as much as I can from others. Even if it’s reading a book, I want to know what brought us together and what purpose I might piece together that we are intended to serve to each other.

I have had this post sitting in my drafts since the beginning of May. It wasn’t until I read this chapter last night I could finish it and feel comfortable publishing it.

In Chapter Ten, Center Stage, Miss Cicely is recounting her training with Vinnette Carroll playwright, actress, theater director, and the first black woman to direct on Broadway, with her 1972 production of the musical Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope

In discussing art, Miss Cicely (I like saying that) explains in just a few short sentences everything I want to convey in this post. 

“Vinnette taught me to learn technique and then to forget it–and to resurrect it only if it served my portrayal. Technique is important, to the extent that it is undergirded by emotion. I once knew an actress who was a brilliant technician, but her portrayal fell flat. She could create a moment and bring it to fruition, yet it was apparent she wasn’t feeling anything, and as a result, neither was her audience.”

Cicely Tyson, Just as I am, Chapter Ten, pg. 156-57

“Technique is important, to the extent that it is undergirded by emotion.”

I never consider myself an expert on anything. I will say what I have come to know in my experience, both as a writer and listener of poetry, is to watch out for intellect. By intellect, I mean the need to be so fancy you confuse the reader. It is, in my opinion, similar to using technique and forgetting emotion.

That is why I often feel that intellect, if not used in balance with emotion, passion, and heart, is the enemy of sound poetry.

“Watch out for intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.”

Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems

I have read poetry so over my head I could not possibly relate to it. Metaphors and similes were so puzzling I am not even sure Maya Angelou could decipher what the poet meant if she were alive. I once read a poem that ended with the author saying he or she had eaten a bird. I do not know who or what the bird symbolized. All I know is a bird at the beginning that ended up eaten by the end of the poem.

Poor bird.

I did feel sorry for the bird to this poet’s credit, so I was not without emotion completely. It is not lost on me that readers can discover their own meanings and interpretations of poems, which is part of the fun. We learn what the author intended for the poem to communicate and what we got from it based on our personal experiences and feelings. I love hearing how a poem I’ve written resonated with readers, even if what they got from it was different from what I thought as I wrote it.

But, I like to think reading and writing is a partnership. While the first person our writing serves is ourselves, I would hope there is something to be gained by the reader too. I don’t want to get so wrapped up in the beauty of language that there is no substance, just pretty words. I expressed this in the poem Give Me Life.

To me, this would be similar to the woman Tyson references, who was a brilliant technician when acting but could not move her audience.

If you know anything about me by now, you know I am a Black Movie Buff. It’s like Justice said in Poetic Justice about having something deep to say, about having a voice.

Lucky: “What you write about in that notebook?”

Justice: “That’s my poetry.”

Lucky: “You trying to say my cousin’s shit ain’t poetry?”

Justice: “It ain’t if he ain’t got nothing deep to say. Gotta have a voice. A perspective.”

Intellect can be a strength or it can be a weakness.

If there is an easier way to say something, write it plainly, and it will reveal its own depth. I like to write the poem as it comes to me and then come back later to dress it up. Ain’t nothing wrong with a little icing once you have the cake.

Here is another quote I picked up from the quote of the day from author and editor Shayla Raquel’s newsletter, which I also just read yesterday.

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.” 

— Meg Rosof

*I said at the beginning of this post I was not an actor. I should say I am not a professional actor, as I do have some experience with it. In High School, I was part of a special program to write and perform plays. I cannot remember the program’s name or what the aim was, but this was my first official summer job. I did this for the summer of my Sophomore and Junior year, taking an official drama class my senior year, where I would also perform my poetry live for the first time as a monologue. In 2015, I was featured in a stage play at the DuSable Museum.

But as I reflect, fun as it was, I prefer to write the screenplay. Ya’ll can do the acting.


Yecheilyah's 4th Annual Poetry Contest

Have you entered this year’s poetry contest? I hope I gave you some inspiration! Take your time but keep your eyes on the clock. June will be here before you know it.

Submit your love poem on or before June 1st.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Note: I have not read any of the poems submitted yet! I don’t read any of the poems until the contest has ended and everything is in.

When It Rains

The rain gives me the permission to slow down. As the sky darkens, I feel safe to retreat under the covers and do nothing without guilt. The growl of thunder speaks a language it knows I understand. “Rest,” it says and just like the water falling from heaven nourishes the ground, I too am recharged by laying my burdens down. I love it most when the sky darkens. It’s like the earth turned off its lights. Giggling at the revelation, I turn my lights off too and listen to the thundering command my next move. I am a kid again thinking of things to do before the grownups come back. The body is such a beautiful creation, releasing melatonin to induce drowsiness when natural light disappears in the evening. When this happens in the middle of the day, it is a special treat. I sit down to write something to match the energy bursting forth from the sky before the sun returns from its sabbatical, and my body releases the cortisone that will get us up and going again. I sit in the darkness with only a lamp of light to write before the tranquility of the moment passes, taking with it these words.