The Power of Your Author Name: A Message to First Time Indie Authors

Barack Obama released another book on the seventeenth of November, 2020. It was already a Best Seller with over two-thousand book reviews on Amazon just a few days after release. Obama’s name alone skyrocketed this book to the Best Seller’s List before we had time to decide what we wanted for breakfast that morning.

And Sister Soldier’s March 2021 release, “Life After Death,” the long awaited follow up to The Coldest Winter Ever is already a Best Seller. That’s right. A Best Seller and the book is not even out yet.

The same can be said of Amanda Gorman, whose poetry book The Hill We Climb, and Children’s Book, Change Sings, is already a best seller.

These books don’t release until September!

Today, we are talking about the power of your name and the role it plays in your author branding and marketing yourself as a first-time Indie Author.

What’s in a Name?

 

A person’s name is a connection to their identity and individuality. It is the history of who a person is. When you think of names that have become prolific, you are not just thinking about a person’s name. You are thinking about all the things that person has done, their experiences and contributions to the world.

Sometimes, we hear a name, and it is not a good image we see. Names like Jefferey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy make us tremble, but even these names show a name’s power. We tremble because their names are connected with the horrific things they’ve done, and hearing those names brings to our memory those heinous acts, in the same way, hearing Maya Angelou’s name gives us hope.

When branding yourself as an author, it is good to have the same author name consistent across platforms. Your name doesn’t just tell someone who you are, but it helps build brand recognition.

This means using the same name across your author’s website, the same name in your social media handles and emails, and the same name on your book covers.

“You can show genre with cover design, blurb, logo, and many other cues, but publishing under lots of names in the digital age is a recipe for disaster.” – Anne R. Allen

The more people see your work connected with your name, the more they remember who you are.

It is why we call them “Name Brands.”

Michael Jordan is a brand name, an icon whose career has made his identity equivalent to excellence. When people buy Jordans, they know they are buying a top-quality shoe. And even if it is not a top-quality shoe, it is what the people believe. Why? How did someone whose name once meant nothing now mean everything?

Well, that’s another blog post. For now, let’s just stay on topic and keep it simple.

Michael Jordan proved himself as an exceptional basketball player, and his work ethic is connected with his nameThe more his work became recognized, so did his name.

Your work and your name are connected, whether you are a servant of good or bad. If you are doing good work (in this case, we are discussing writing) and not using your name or changing your business name every six months, you make it hard for people to connect who you are with what you do.

“It’s much easier to build brand recognition if you keep all your publishing activity under the same name and the same expression of that name.” – Jane Friedman

Nikki Giovanni, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Walter Mosley, Toni Morrison, and Richard Wright.

Chances are you’ve heard these names before, and if you are like me, you will notice these names on book covers at any bookstore. You might even stop to scan or flip through the pages of a book simply because you recognize these author’s names.

Book Titles

The name of this blog started as the name of a book series I was writing.

In my Pretty Woman voice, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”

While I have found a new purpose in this blog, it was a mistake to name this blog after a book. The problem with using the title of your book as your blog name, author website, or social media pages is you will probably write more books.

Are you going to create more websites and accounts for all the books you are writing?

Of course not.

Your name is one of the most powerful, FREE resources you have for marketing yourself as an author.

When you first meet someone you introduce yourself, and you start with your name because your name is your identity. It is more important than your job title and degrees. And when people remember our name, it makes us feel important, recognized, and valued.

What about Pen Names?

Anne R. Allen has published an excellent article on that already, so I will refer you there. While her post is about why pen names are not a good idea, Anne’s number one good reason for using a “pen” name is the one loophole.

  1. It’s the name you’re known by, even if it’s not the name on your birth certificate.

It is absolutely okay to use a name that you’ve been known by even if it’s not your birth name. The key is not to keep changing it though. Pick a name and stick with it.

Consider Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, Sonia Sanchez, Kwame Ture, Whoopi Goldberg, and others. None of these people were born with those names just as I was not born Yecheilyah Ysrayl. Although I was not born Yecheilyah, I do not consider it a pen name. It is more than that, it is the name for which I am now known.

Use Your Name

“Once you know what author name you’ll be using, be relentlessly consistent in the expression of that name throughout your websites and social media accounts.”

– Jane Friedman

No matter what name you choose to brand, use that name everywhere. It will help people to identify you, and when they remember you, they remember your work.

No one cares about the title of your book or your book, for that matter.

What people care about is you, the author so it is your NAME and your author photo that will stand out the most in your social media profiles and on your website.

Think about it: It’s not about “A Promised Land.” It is about the fact that Obama wrote it. He could have titled the book The First Black President and people would have bought it. People are buying him. People are buying Obama.

I am not a fan of the term, but when people say that “people buy people,” what they mean is in the beginning, readers are interested in the person more than the book. Then as they begin to trust the person, they trust anything connected to the person, including the book.

  • Who are you?
  • What do you enjoy doing outside of writing?
  • What motivates/inspires you to write?
  • What has your journey been like?
  • What’s your story?

Instead of using a lot of different names or the title of your book, focus on branding one name across platforms.

www. AuthorName . com
Facebook.com/Author Name
Twitter: @Author Name
Instagram: @Author Name
Clubhouse: @Author Name

The stronger your brand name, the easier the marketing. We all hope to get to the point where people hear our name associated with something and run out to support it without blinking.

Use your name. That is all.


Looking for more Indie Author Tips? Check out the catalog of articles here. From this point forward, Indie Author Basics posts will publish on Wednesdays.


I am Soul is 99cents for a limited time. And remember, if you read it, review it!

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Andi Brooks

Introduce Yourself is back!

Do you like our new badge? Yass!

Please help me extend a warm welcome to Andi Brooks.

Welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Andi Brooks. I am originally from England, but I have lived in Tokyo for the last 15 years.

Nice! What would your perfect writing room look like?

That’s an interesting question as I was thinking about that only last week. I would love to have a desk in the bay window of a Victorian house overlooking the sea. A rugged, stormy coastline would suit me very well. I love to walk along the beach alone in winter and search the black waves for inspiration.

Yess. That sounds soo relaxing. Let’s talk about when you published your first book? What was that like?

My first book was a collaboration with the American writer Frank Dello Stritto. “Vampire Over London: Bela Lugosi in Britain” was originally published in 2000 and reprinted as an updated and expanded second edition in 2015. A biography of the famous Hollywood actor forever associated with Count Dracula’s role on stage and in the 1931 film, the book was the culmination of a decade of research. It was very exciting to see it in print and gratifying to have it universally praised by critics and readers.

Before working on the book, I wrote articles on vintage horror, sci-fi, and fantasy films for magazines in the UK and America. After the book was published, I put together a Bela Lugosi blog (https://beladraculalugosi.com/) to share the research material and wrote a silly poetry book, but I mainly devoted myself to writing music and promoting live shows in Tokyo.

Apart from one article on the love affair between Bela Lugosi and Clara Bow, which won the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award in 2017, I wasn’t really involved in writing much until I threw myself into Ghostly Tales of Japan.

This book is available now on Amazon!

What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?

The most difficult aspect of being a writer for me is trying to overcome a lack of faith in my ability. I generally know when an idea is good, but I can’t overcome my doubts about my skill as a writer. If I hadn’t been firm with myself, I would still be revising the stories in my latest book, but there has to come a time when you have to say that enough is enough and put your pen aside. As it was, the stories in Ghostly Tales of Japan went through endless rewrites. I agonized over every choice of word and punctuation. It is good to strive for perfection, but you have to realize that there is really no such thing. Being always dissatisfied is a good motivator always to try harder.

The best thing about being a writer is hearing back from readers who have enjoyed reading your work. It makes all of the pain that goes into writing worthwhile.

We do tend to judge ourselves harshly but hearing feedback from readers makes it worthwhile for sure. Andi, who is your favorite writer?

It depends on my mood, but H. G. Wells and H. P. Lovecraft were firm favourites for many years. The scale of their imaginations is astounding.

Wait, wait, wait. I gotta ask you about the TV show real quick. Lovecraft Country, did you watch? Like or Nah?

I’ve never heard of it!

Whaat?

Living in Japan, you can miss an awful lot unless you watch Netflix and the like, which I don’t. I always tend to hear about things long after the fact.

Lovecraft is great for radio adaptations, but tends not to do so well on the screen. I did love the Reanimator films, but I haven’t seen many over good adaptations. I did a quick search online for Lovecraft Country and watched a clip. I can’t really tell if it’s for me or not, but you have sparked my interest, so I will give it a go.

And give it a go you should!

I also love the ghost stories written by M. R. James. I don’t think he has ever been better. At the moment, however, I am completely immersed in the writing of Carlos Ruiz Zafón. The Shadow of the Wind is one of my all-time favourite novels. I have reread it so many times. Although I said that there is no such thing as perfection, this book is as close as it comes. Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s skill was breathtaking. It is such a tragedy that he died so early. The world has been denied the many wonderful books he could have written, but what he left behind is something to be very grateful for. I have literally just put down The Angel’s Game, the sequel to The Shadow of the Wind. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, The Prisoner of Heaven, to pop through my letterbox.

I love it. What is the most thought-provoking book you’ve ever read?

Perhaps Oh! The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss. I read it to my son many times when he was small. The truth in that wonderful book will always be relevant. It made me reflect on the ups and downs of my life. Things certainly haven’t always gone to plan, but the disappointments resulted in me taking a different path, which led to where I am today, which is not a bad place to be.

What is the worst advice you’ve ever been given?

When I was at school, a career advisor told me that I should forget dreaming of being a writer, an artist, or a musician and get a job in a factory because it was regular work. I have ignored the advice of his like ever since.

I don’t blame you! Like, whaatt.

Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?

Music has been a big part of my life since my teens. I can’t imagine a day without music. I’ve been in many bands, either playing bass, guitar or singing. About three years ago, I put the guitars aside and decided to start making electronic music. It was something that had been in the back of my mind for a very long time. I regret not trying earlier because it has given me total musical freedom, but better late than never! You can find my electronic musical misadventures on my Bandcamp page (https://airstripone1.bandcamp.com/).

I love it. Musical Therapy is a real thing for sure. We love music on the PBS Blog. In fact, today’s Throwback Thursday! What kind of music do you like?

I listen to a very wide range of music. I like to have something to suit whatever mood I am in. My first music love was the 1970s British band T. Rex. They inspired me to try my hand at making my own music. David Bowie was also a big influence in the 1970s. Then along came punk rock, which was the perfect soundtrack for my teens. Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, X-ray Spex, and, of course, The Sex Pistols had a deep impact on me.

Towards the end of the 1970s and into the early 1980s, I loved British electronic music. Along the way, I’ve listened to everything from folk to jazz. I must give a special mention to Christmas music. I love Christmas and its music, both traditional and popular. I think I have around two hundred CDs of Christmas music!

Sheesh, Andi. Lol

Today, I have listened to underground Japanese electronic music, Nina Simone, the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis, some solo albums by Mick Karn, and David Sylvian of the band Japan. I have an insatiable appetite for music, and I am addicted to buying CDs and records. I try to find something new to listen to almost every day.

What songs have you completely memorized?

My memory is absolutely dreadful! There are some song which I have been listening to for over forty years, and I still don’t know all the lyrics. It’s bizarre! The only song, apart from ones which I have written – and I’m not sure that I can remember them, which I think I know all of the lyrics of is, like many people, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. It’s not a song I usually listen to, but somehow it has wormed its way into my brain. If you only know the words to one song, it’s not a bad choice. I remember lines from movies more but often forget the plots. I love movies as much as music. One day I would like to make my own.

If you could live in a movie, which would it be?

I’m not sure that I would like to live in any of the movies I watch, being a lifelong horror fan.

Ha!

Even the non-horror films I like tend to have elements of darkness that I wouldn’t want to experience. If I’m forced to choose, perhaps it would be Lost Horizon – the Frank Capra original, not the musical remake. I don’t think I would hesitate to accept the offer of escaping the madness of this world to spend my days in the utopia of Shangri-La.

If you could, would you visit the past?

I would love to. There are so many great periods I would like to visit, but wherever I decided to go, I think I would stop off in 1979 first to give a few words of advice to my teenage self. I’m not sure that he would listen, but there are two facts of life that I wish he had known!

Thank you, Andi, for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Copyright Andi Brooks

Andi Brooks is a writer of English and Irish descent based in Tokyo. He began writing on vintage horror and science fiction films for American and UK magazines in 1991. With Frank J. Dello Stritto, he co-wrote “Vampire Over London: Bela Lugosi in Britain” (Cult Movies Press 2000), a critically acclaimed biography of the Hollywood legend forever associated with the role of Dracula. In 2017, he received the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award for ‘Dracula and the It Girl,’ an article which recounted the short-lived love affair between Bela Lugosi and silent screen star Clara Bow. In 2020, he published “Ghostly Tales of Japan,” a collection of thirty original ghostly stories set in various Japanese history periods. He is currently writing a second volume of ghostly Japanese stories and a guide to the terrifying sites of Tokyo.

Be Sure You Are Following Andi on Social Media

…and if you are a Horror/ SciFi fan, be sure to check out his book!

Other Digital Platforms:


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. 

 

Note: We pushed this week’s feature back to today, but we will get back on schedule for the next feature. Author interviews post on Mondays.

The Writer Talks with Asha G. Kumar Part One

Thank you to Asha G. Kumar, host of The Writer Talks, for having me on!

Check out Part One of this two-part interview with yours truly. In this first part, we talk about the inspiration behind my first forthcoming Urban Fantasy/SciFi/Speculative Fiction novel, The Women with Blue Eyesmy belief in aliens lol, and my latest poetry collection, My Soul is a Witness. In part two, we dig deeper into my journey as a writer, my advice to other writers, Black History, and you know I had to recite some poetry!

Part 1 is available now on YouTube.

Link below!

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No One is You And That is Your Power

Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks at Hall Branch Library, Chicago, IL, 1949. Credit: George Cleveland Hall Branch Archives, photo 146, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection.

I still go to libraries.

I got my first library card at the Hall Branch Library on 48th in Michigan on Chicago’s south side. I was thirteen years old and still needed my mother’s signature. I wasn’t into Black History back then. I chose this library because I wanted to check out books, and it was down the street from my grandmother’s house.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Dr. George Cleveland Hall

Yesterday, I discovered Hall Branch was named for the renowned African American surgeon, social activist, and civic leader Dr. George Cleveland Hall (1864-1930). It was the first Chicago Public Library location with a Black branch manager, Vivian G. Harsh, who served as its first manager. We will get deeper into Hall’s background on this Friday’s Black History Fun Fact, the last one of the year.

In 1949, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks visited the Hall Branch to celebrate the publication of The Poetry of the Negro Anthology.

On July 7, 2000, the Friends of Libraries USA (now United for Libraries) and Illinois Center for the Books designated Hall Branch as a literary landmark. This was in recognition of its promotion of African American literary culture by serving as a meeting place for such writers as Arna Bontemps, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, and Richard Wright. (Learn more about the Chicago Renaissance of the Black Belt Here).

I thought I had picked this library at random and for no particular reason. I had no idea it was so rich with Black History or that it was this hub for Black writers.

This helped me to see how unique each of our journeys are. No one has walked in your shoes or experienced what you’ve experienced. No one is you, and that is your power.

Everything is a stepping stone to get us to the place Yah has destined for us, every path like a thread weaving and connecting everything together.

It would be years before I learned who Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks were, and many more years before I would publish a collection of poetry of my own.

Little did I know I was building on the same foundation as those who came before me.

Talk about the power of purpose!

Also, I still got that library card!


Have you read My Soul is a Witness? I am striving for 20 book reviews at minimum before the year is out. If you read this book, I would appreciate so much if you reviewed it! Go to the page here. Scroll down to Write Customer Review, click that, rate and review. Boom. Done.

Thanks!!

3 Simple Ways to Know If You Are Posting Valuable Blog Content

It’s time for another blogging tip!

We have already talked about one cool strategy for busy bloggers. I want to extend that conversation by making it easier for those new to blogging to discern if what you are posting is valuable and high quality.

For the record, I am not one of those who think you have to post every day, not on social media and not to the blog. Wasted time is like wasted money, so I will not post or recommend posting just for the sake of posting.

We are not doing all of that.

What we are doing is posting consistently enough to be present enough to serve our audience.

Whenever we post, we want to add value, and adding value only means educating, inspiring, or entertaining your people.

  • Educational
  • Inspirational/Uplifting
  • Entertaining

A fourth category could be Edutainment – Educating through entertainment. Thank me later.

To do this would mean that you must be deliberate about the content you publish.

What does this mean for blogging?

To be deliberate means to have an intentional and purposeful focus. It is the opposite of being fake and posting just to post. It means posting what is important to you and what is helpful, inspiring, or educational to others while somehow making sure it ties into your brand.

I published I am Soul on December 20, 2017. This was intentional, as December 20 is my late mother’s birthday. She was alive then, and I wanted the book to be a dedication because she had been through a lot that year.

I know value is a big buzzword these days, and sometimes it can sound so complicated, but it’s really not all that deep. Posting content of value means you are posting what will uplift, educate, or entertain. Some examples include:

  • Creative writing (poetry, short stories)
  • Promotion for Indie Authors
  • Posting a think piece on a hot topic
  • Sharing some life lessons and experiences (as it is relatable to your brand)
  • Posting a review of a book you read
  • Posting something funny

Blogging doesn’t have to be a waste of time, especially if you are not getting paid to be here. Suppose you are making money from your blog or using it as an author platform to connect with readers. In that case, you definitely don’t want to waste your time publishing ten posts a week that doesn’t add value to your life or the life of others.

Choose a few days a week you want to post and make sure you are entertaining, educating, or inspiring us.

That’s it.


For More Blog Tips Click Here.

Don’t forget to vote for the My Soul is a Witness Book Cover!

PS. This book is 99cents on Kindle! This is your chance to grab it if you don’t have it. Click the title linked above. 

>>Vote Here<<

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Cane River Creole National Park – Oakland Plantation

On this day in 2016, I posted about a former slave plantation in Natchitoches, Louisiana I visited that weekend. I shared my experience on this blog, but I never made it a Black History Fun Fact. As the memory popped up in my Facebook archives, I decided to add it to the collection. Below is the original post for those of you who were not following me in 2016 and never saw this.


Originally Published on 11/28/2016

I took a week off to unplug and to spend time with my family. In addition to camping, we visited the Cane River Creole National Historical Park in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

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Reading and watching movies about slavery is one thing, but touring a former slave plantation is an entirely different experience. I didn’t get very emotional, but I will say for now that gratitude is my best way of describing it—appreciation for all the comforts I enjoy in my life that my ancestors paid for with their blood. As the sun lowered and we prepared to leave, I thought about what they would be doing at this time of the day. I thought about how they’d just be coming in from the fields to prepare for their nightly routines or, perhaps, still working.

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Originally called Bermuda, the founder of Oakland was Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prud’homme, who began farming the land in 1785 and received a Spanish land grant in 1789. The land’s first cash crops were tobacco, indigo, and cotton.

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The Prud’hommes were the first family west of the Mississippi River to farm cotton on a large scale.

The Overseer’s House

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Overseers were the middlemen of the Antebellum South’s plantation hierarchy. Sometimes they were white men working for the slave owner, and other times they were enslaved men hired to rule over their brothers. The “masters” expected overseers to maintain a workforce of slaves to produce a crop. The enslaved were the overseer’s responsibility. He was to keep them working by any means necessary. In return, he got to occupy his own cabin or possibly get a bit more food. The perception was that because his job was “better,” he himself was better off, but he was still an enslaved person.

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Close Up: Check Out this Old School Stove!

I also noticed the mud and straw still preserved from the original building of the house.

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Slave Quarters turned Home of Sharecroppers

After the Civil War, sharecropper and tenant farmers continued to live on the land up until the 1970s. They worked twelve hours a day, six days a week.

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Wash House

Martha Ann, an enslaved Laundress, worked in this wash house in the 1850s. In the 1940s, her descendant, Martha Helaire, earned $4 an hour working here as a Laundress. All we have to do is walk a few steps to the washer and dryer.

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Bemuda Store

Opened after The Civil War, sharecroppers and tenant farmers continued buying their supplies from family and farming from this store until 1983.

1983?!

The Prud’homme family owned and operated the store. They also ran the Post Office located inside.

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Carpenter Shop

Slaves built and repaired plantation structures from this workplace.

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Mule Barn

Smokehouse turned mule barn. Built by the enslaved, the plantation reused the smokehouse to accommodate the mules when the original mule barn burned down.

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Cane Syrup Pot

Used to make cane syrup.

On some plantations, they used these pots to punish the enslaved and to boil them alive (as depicted in the movie “Mandingo.” CLICK HERE to see the clip.)

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The Big House

This is the porch and perimeter of “The Big House.” We could tour everywhere except for this house. We were not allowed inside, and they did not give us a reason why.

It was overwhelming to look at the trees whose thick branches bowed low. Shading the big house, cooling it from the Louisiana sun, and sheltering it from the River breeze, these trees lined the walkway to the entrance of the gate and were planted in 1825.

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Strangers Room

I don’t know what a stranger’s room is (guest room?), but it’s a room in the big house. I tried to take pics of the inside from the window. It looks like the original furniture is still preserved.

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Carriage House

The carriage house dates to 1820. In its earlier years, the east bay was used as a horse stall. The overseer had the horse saddled each day and tied to the chain so that it was available for riding and checking the fields.

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Square Corn Crib and Cistern

The Corn Crib was built around 1821 of hand-hewn cypress logs and was used to store grain for the plantation. Rainwater was channeled from the crib roof into the cistern, which was 16 ft deep and held 4804 Gallons of water used for watering stock.

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Pigeoneer

There are several Pigeonnier’s on the land. The Prud’ Hommes harvested young pigeons for a delicacy called “Squab.”

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Chicken Coop

Husband checking out the Chicken Coop.

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Fattening Pen

Chickens were bred, hatched and fattened in this area. Turkeys were also raised on the land.

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Randoms

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What I carried home with me was an even deeper appreciation for those little things we take for granted every day. I was headed back to the campsite to sleep in a tent, but I knew that eventually, I’d be going home to a hot shower, a full meal, and a warm bed. As we packed up to leave the plantation, I considered what it would be like to be forced to stay. What is it like not to have a home to go back to and nothing more to look forward to tomorrow than the same back-breaking work?

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My revelations were not just in relation to dark history (I am aware black history is not just about slavery). As I looked around the land, I saw how the enslaved built almost everything on the property. It reminded me of how skillful and resourceful we are as a people. From shelters to clothing, food, and shoes, I thought how empowering it would be to get back to building our own.

Often deemed ignorant and illiterate, the truth is that Israelites, so-called Blacks, were not as naive as we are taught. It occurred to me that many blacks were only lost when it came to adapting and assimilating into American culture. Otherwise, we were expert farmers, inventors, midwives, carpenters, and chefs. Thus, I left not just in appreciation for the tangible things in my life, but for everything my people have endured and the knowledge they’ve passed down to me through the generations.


Being that I drafted this post when we got home so it can be ready for you today, I’m going to crawl into this bed and get ready to catch up. I’ll be scrolling your blogs to see what I missed. The grind continues.

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Click here to read more Black History Fun Fact Friday Articles!

Self-Publishing (The Right Way) Is Not Free

I read a book a couple of weekends ago. I feel it has the utmost potential. To be clear, this isn’t a book from my book review service. I read this book on my own time from an author I do not know. I enjoyed the testimony; I loved the cover, and I can relate to much of the information.

Unfortunately, the book was in such terrible need of editing and formatting that it was troublesome to get through, which broke my heart. I am not usually ultra-sensitive to typos and such when reading a book for leisure. I am only irritated when the errors are so bad I can’t enjoy or understand the story.

I could tell very little money went into this book’s production just from reading it.

That is when I knew what I wanted to write to you as we enter this new month.

I know because I have been here. I have published books written in a Microsoft Word Document, turned it into a PDF, and uploaded it. I have not only removed a lot of my earlier works, but I have risked book reviews taking books down to revise them for this reason.

As many of us do when we enter Self-Publishing, I learned the hard way that authoring a book takes more than uploading a Microsoft Word Document or PDF to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing or Lulu. The hardest pill to swallow is that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but it’s essential for new authors who choose to Self-Publish to be aware there are costs involved. Self-Publishing is not the easy route if pursued the right way. It requires both time and financial investment.

What Happens Traditionally:

I found it is helpful to understand what happens when someone publishes a book traditionally.

Traditionally, a publisher offers an author a contract. The author signs with the publisher who prints, publishes and sells the book through bookstores and other retailers. The publisher is buying the rights to the book and pays the author royalties from the sales.

Since this isn’t my area of expertise, I will leave it here. That’s the gist of it, but to learn more on Traditional Publishing steps, click here.

The most crucial part as it relates to this post is that the traditional publishing house “takes on the responsibilities and costs of designing, printing, distributing, and marketing the book.” (McLachlin)

Vanity Publishing

Vanity Publishing, the center of much controversy in the Indie world, is a publisher who publishes a book provided the author can pay for services. If the author doesn’t want to do everything independently and can afford to spend thousands of dollars to publish this book, a Vanity Publisher will gladly publish them.

Vanity Presses can look like Traditional Publishers to the untrained eye, but there’s a significant difference. The Vanity Press does not get paid royalties from the sale like a Traditional Publishing House. The Vanity Press gets paid money upfront from the author to publish them. The author is paying to get their book published. As you now know, this is not how traditional publishing works. After the Vanity Press publish the book, some allow the author to own the book and keep the profit from sales, but some Vanity Presses do not.

Why VP’s charge

Image Cred: Reedsy

Newbie authors get excited to be “signed” with Vanity Presses under the presumption they are like traditional publishing houses. They are not. VP’s charge authors to publish them because, without paying for services, there are no services. Vanity Presses have a bad reputation for outsourcing to mediocre editors and designers, so authors spend thousands of dollars (sometimes upwards of $5,000+) to receive poor editing and crappy formatting and graphic design.

Take Rocket Science Productions / RSP Marketing Services, for example, where “Phase One” of this publishing scheme involves a $595 payment for copyright registration and an ISBN. (ALLI)

Self-Publishing companies that promise you can keep “100% of your copyright” promise the new author something they already own because the work is under copyright from the moment of creation. If the author wants to go the extra mile and register it, they can do that for $45, according to the .gov copyright website here.

ISBN’s are expensive, but you can purchase a block of TEN from Bowker (US) for $295.

That’s TEN ISBNs for TEN separate books (or multiple versions of the same book) as opposed to paying almost six-hundred dollars for ONE.

Morgan James Publishing is another example, a vanity press that profits by selling books to their authors rather than readers. (ALLI)

Author Solutions and anything under Author Solutions and Xlibris are also Vanity Presses to watch out for.

The only people who get paid in this situation are the publisher or company offering the services. There are tons of people making six figures off green Self-Publishers. If I charged eight thousand dollars per author, I’d be a millionaire too.

The primary way to identify a Vanity Press is to understand one simple fact:

A traditional publisher pays the author, not the other way round.

But the traditional publisher also owns the rights to the book, which is why many choose to Self-Publish.

Self-Publishing 

With Self-Publishing, you pay to produce, market, distribute, and warehouse the book. This investment can get expensive, which is why I understand why writers fall for vanity presses. Suppose you pay $2,000 to get a book edited (which is not out of the ordinary for skilled, professional editing depending on the editing needed) and still need a decent cover and everything else. Why not pay $5,000 for a team of professionals to do everything for you?

The problem is that the books these “professionals” publish are low in quality, and sometimes the author doesn’t maintain the rights to their book even after paying so much to get it published. If you charge someone $5,000 to publish their book, it should look like it, and the author should own the rights to the book. There is no excuse for charging this much money to upload a poorly edited and formatted text with a generic cover to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and then call yourself a publisher.

Why Self-Publishing Can Be Free But Isn’t If You Do It Right

With Self-Publishing, you do not sign with a publisher, so there is no one to cover the cost of book editing and cover design. You are the publisher, so the financial responsibility is yours.

It will cost you nothing to upload a manuscript to Amazon’s KDP or Kobo or iTunes or whichever platform you’d like to use. You can take your Word Document or PDF and create an account with that platform and upload it. You can also go wide using Draft2Digital to make your book available on other ebook platforms like Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and iTunes.

But, if you want to produce a high-quality book, there are costs involved in getting the manuscript ready for publication.

You are not paying someone to publish your book, or I should say, upload your manuscript to KDP. You are investing in producing a quality product.

Technically, you do not have to pay anything to publish a book, but it will look like it.

You OWN your book, which places you in great authority, and with eminent authority comes greater responsibility. If you don’t want to be responsible for everything, then Self-Publishing might not be the route for you. It may be best to look into Traditional Publishing.

Again, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to publish a book. There are many great pre-made cover designs, for example, that are cheaper than custom made covers, and editors who have great deals.

This post’s purpose is not for you to think that paying a lot of money will make your book great automatically. No editor, despite how talented, can make a crappy story great again.

The purpose of this post is to inform those of you new to Self-Publishing that if you want to be an Independent Author/Publisher, you will have to invest some money in publishing your book if you want it done right. 

Click here for the Best Self-Publishing services and the worst rated by the Alliance of Independent Authors.


Looking for more Indie Author Basics?

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Indie Author Basics with EC exists because after Self-Publishing my books, I quickly realized the lack of information available to Indie Authors. Sometimes the only way to learn is through experience, and I have discovered some ups and downs that I think will help those who are just beginning. I do not present these as concrete, guaranteed solutions, but I hope new authors can use these tips to better the Self-Publishing experience and make it less confusing.

Let each one, reach one.