The Most Important Lesson I Learned in 11 Years of Publishing my Books

The little girl licked the wooden spoon that came with her ice cream.

“Bet you don’t know my mama name,” said Zoey, the five-year-old daughter of my husband’s client. We were relaxing on the couch, watching Netflix, and eating ice cream. Mine was gone, but she was still eating hers in that gross way children do, ice cream residue around her mouth and dripping from her fingers. I hoped she’d hurry and eat the thing before it melted all the way. It was a hot Sunday.

“Krissy,” I said proudly.

“Krissy what?”

Ole snap. What is the woman’s full name EC? Kristina? Kristy? Kristy Anne? Dang. I forgot the woman’s name. I’ve just been calling her Krissy or Kris like everyone else.

“You tell me,” I said playing it off.

Did I just reverse a question on a five-year-old? Yes. Yes, I did.

“Her name is…her name is…hmmm.”

Zoey seemed confused. I should have felt bad. I didn’t.

“My mommy’s name is—-”

“You don’t know it either,” I teased.

“I know she’s mommy but… just call her Krissy,” waved Zoey, licking the wooden spoon.

“Works for me,” I laughed.

This is what I was doing all day. Watching Netflix and talking to five-year-old Zoey and one-year-old Ziggy. Well, Ziggy and I did not exactly speak. There was something about he had to boo-boo and then he took a nap.

This was my weekend a few months ago. I went on a call with my husband. My husband is an HVAC (Heating, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration) and Maintenance Tech. As a Universally Certified technician, this means he can pretty much work on anything from a home AC system to a restaurant’s refrigeration system. This day, he was installing three toilets for this family, which meant that I would hang out with the wife. I rarely tag along with him on his calls, but he asked me to, so I went. I wasn’t doing anything, anyway.

We were there all day, and the family even made dinner for us. I learned the wife is from Chicago, my hometown, and the husband is originally from Jamaica. I enjoyed the Tilapia and Rice dishes served and had never had a whole fish before! Like, they fried the entire thing, one big slab. Boom. On your plate, ha!

My husband and his client spoke extensively about several things. Somewhere along the line, my book came up, and my husband gave him the link to my website along with links to other things they discussed. (I can assure you I was not an important part of the conversation.)

But when we got home later that evening, the husband sent my husband a text saying that he had purchased a copy of I am Soul.

“Aww,” I crooned. “That’s sweet. Tell him I said thank you.”

Now, for the most important part of the story….

How many times did I ask them to buy my book? Zero.

How many times did I discuss the book with the wife? Zero.

I did not bring up my work at all. What I did was play with the children, watch Netflix, and converse with the wife about food. We talked about why I couldn’t be a vegetarian and other things.

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my 11-year journey of publishing books is the importance of connecting with others and building genuine relationships.

People buy from people they have a connection with. This may be an already formed relationship/friendship, similar interests, personality, hobby, belief system, faith, passions, membership in the same groups, clubs, or similar spirits or vibes. These are the people who will support you. You don’t even have to force it, manipulate or chase. This means that relationships (directly or indirectly) is a major factor in selling books.

Just be yourself and let the vibe of that authenticity light the path, drawing the people to you who are meant to be in your presence.

Personal Examples

(because I am really not just talking out the side of my neck)

I met TV Personality Tinzley Bradford through my connection with Lisa W. Tetting. I turned around and sponsored, attended, and performed at Tinzley’s mixer last year and met TV One and Talk show host Chere Turner, CEO of Behind the Beauti Tenisha Bibbs, Singer, and CEO of Advudcate Arts LLC Cami Tippin, and 2x Best Selling Author Oliver T Reid. Then, I attended Oliver T Reid’s writer’s masterclass and met publisher Kelly Cole, also a 2x Best Selling Author and owner of one of the fastest growing Black-Owned Book Publishing companies in the U.S. I met Indie Bookstore owner Nia Damali through Indie Bookstore owner Marcus and through Nia I met Vivica A. Fox. A recent example is my meeting of Founder and Owner of B Infused Natural Detox Waters Brianna Arceneaux. Brianna is more like a niece as she is the sister of my brother-in-laws daughter. She is also the founder of a women’s organization Sagacious Women of Business, dedicated to mentoring young women in business and victims of sexual assault. She has been mad supportive of my work, and we intend to do much business together.

The point here is I have bought books by authors I didn’t know and have had my books purchased by people I didn’t know all due to the power of a single connection.

If you remember nothing else, remember:

Lifting others is how we lift ourselves.

p.s. The mother’s name was Kristina.


Don’t forget to preorder

Keep Yourself Full in ebook below!

Free with Kindle Unlimited

****

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.

CLICK HERE TO MARK AS

WANT TO READ ON GOODREADS

(This book will be available in ebook and paperback
when it releases on August 6th)

About.

 

Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.

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There is Movement in Stillness: Nourish Your Root System

At the start of this month, my family and I took a three-city road trip. We picked up my mom-in-law from Memphis, visited some family in Louisiana, and headed down to Houston to see more family. Then, we headed back down to Memphis to close the weekend. We had a great time laughing and eating greasy chicken and enjoying each other’s company, old school style. I did not take many pictures; I did not post many pictures. I just wanted to refresh without social media’s input. I wanted to bask in my mother-in-law’s laughter and joke around with Dad. I wanted to hold babies and scold children. I got to talk to a horse too. I don’t think he was in the mood for conversation, though. It was hot, and my little cousins were annoying him in the way children do. We exchanged a few looks, murmured a few words, and each went about our way.

I still checked in on my social media, but I held back from posting myself. But then something happened as it often does when I step back. I didn’t want to come back! Even after we returned home, I decided to take a few more days off to sit back and reflect on myself. Often when I do this, I notice something pretty amazing: there is movement in stillness. Sometimes when we are doing nothing, we feel like nothing gets done, but actually, everything is getting done! As soon as we relinquish the need to control every outcome, things can move along as they were naturally intended to without us getting in the way. It’s like standing in a room with your eyes closed and not doing anything as the objects in the room start to move and position themselves around you. It is magical the way things line up when we embrace the quiet. Here are a few things that unfolded when I removed myself:

  • I received confirmation to move forward with the project I have been working on in the background for almost two years now. I will talk more about FAPA: From Aspiring to Published Author in a separate post.

 

  • I started work on a new collection of poetry I am calling My Soul is a Witness. I will talk more about this in a  separate post

 

  • I have been trying to get into audiobooks for a while now. I tried once with Renaissance but the narrator couldn’t go through with the project due to family issues. I put Even Salt Looks Like Sugar up on ACX and opened it to auditions. I also forgot about it. Over my break, however, I received three new auditions from narrators who read my sample script for Even Salt Looks Like Sugar, culminating in a total of six auditions. Yep, you heard me right, SIX!

 

  • I am Soul, received two new reviews. Those of you who are Indie Authors know how exciting that is as reviews are often hard to come by.

 

  • Even Salt Looks Like Sugar received one new review with the invitation to possibly do a signing or reading for the organization Sagacious Women of Business this fall.

 

  • The poetry contest got more submissions and email subscribes.

Nourish Your Root System

The part of the plant that grows below the ground are called roots. The main function of the root is to anchor the plant in the soil, to absorb the water and minerals from the soil and prevent soil erosion. There are different roots and root systems. There are tap roots that grow down into the ground and fibrous roots that grow out in all directions underground and looks like a bush. The difference is that tap roots are deeply rooted and fibrous roots are scattered and not that deep. Most weeds are under the fibrous system. It’s easier to uproot and transplant plants under the fibrous system than it is to uproot plants under the tap root system.

If much of the root system is destroyed, a portion of the leaves and branches will die. And if we repeatedly remove the leaves from a tree, some of its roots will die because it connects the leaves on the trees to the tree’s roots. The fruits on a tree are also directly connected to the tree’s roots. The growth of a tree’s roots requires a nourishing of the entire tree itself and when done properly, a strong tree is not easily uprooted by strong storms.

  • What is unseen (roots) must be healthier, stronger than what is seen (branches / leaves)

Work is not just about the physical act of doing something or what we see on the surface. It is not just about posting to social media every day, or blogging twice a week. What is unseen (our hearts, intent, character) directly affects what we see (how we interact, speak, what we produce). The root system of any tree needs to be as wide if not wider than the branches. Meaning what is below (unseen) must match (or even outmatch) what is above or what we see on the surface and if it doesn’t, the tree will fall over and die with the first bad storm.

The most significant work is the work we do on ourselves behind closed doors (unseen), how we nourish our root system. This “Soul Work,” as many deem it, is necessary for business growth and personal growth because how we feel about ourselves directly affect everything around us. It affects who we commit to in relationships and friendships, how we run our businesses, how we establish or do not create boundaries, and how we treat and interact with others. It is not about some pseudo-revolutionary Self-Care Social Media Movement. It is not about putting ourselves on pedestals and becoming a lover of self in the arrogant and cocky sense. Self-care is about recognizing and acknowledging that nourishing the root system of our lives will determine the quality of the fruit we will eventually produce. This nourishment could mean:

  • Praying
  • Fasting from food
  • Fasting from Social Media
  • Stepping back, taking breaks from work
  • Meditating, reading, thinking
  • Crying when we need to
  • Talking when we need to
  • Being silent when we need to
  • Writing (non-business related)

What are some ways you nourish your root system? What keeps you grounded? Comment below!


Don’t forget to preorder

Keep Yourself Full in ebook below!

Free with Kindle Unlimited

****

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.

CLICK HERE TO MARK AS

WANT TO READ ON GOODREADS

(This book will be available in ebook and paperback
when it releases on August 6th)

About.

 

Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.


poetry contest
3rd Annual Poetry Contest: Time is seriously flying by. August will be here before you know it! If you have not already, be sure to enter this year’s contest BEFORE August 1st!

Click here or the hyperlink above to learn how to enter

What We Do to Ourselves

“It cannot be denied that what we do to others we do equally to ourselves. When we treat ourselves better, we naturally treat others better.”


Keep Yourself Full is available for PreOrder!
*The Release date has been pushed back to August 6, 2019*
CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.
CLICK HERE TO MARK AS WANT TO READ ON GOODREADS

“Today I finished reading Keep Yourself Full, and I am beyond in awe of this book! There were so many amazing points made in this work – even tips that I was not fully aware of. That says so much to me, as someone who thought they were aware of how to care for myself. While reading about self-abuse and indicators of it really opened my eyes to how much I don’t know! I look forward to buying a few copies to send my close friends.”

– K. McCoy

“I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book/devotional (It was like a devotional for me). I had been looking for a book such as this that was more of encouragement/devotional type… the topics that you chose were fitting for any individual. I even caught myself reading points that were real and true out loud to my husband (Balance and Value). I am so glad that you decided to write this type of book. I know this will encourage people because it encouraged me as I was reading it.”

– Natashia Crawford 

“This was a wonderful, inspiring read. I felt the book flowed well overall and the various parts seemed to go in a nice order. The writing style was poetic in a way and I felt as though it mimicked the way the verses were told, which I thought was a nice touch. It wasn’t “preachy” at all and it was just a general bout of information to remind everyone we should take better care of ourselves.”
 

– Rachel Poli

“Oh wow, Yecheilyah, I loved it. I’m following some of the advice you gave and finding such a difference in how I think about things. This is a wonderful book.

– Adele

About.

 

Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.


Yesterday’s post on preorders had the wrong links. If you shared it on your sm, please delete it and share this post instead. Thanks so much!

We Are Not Your Negroes

Inspired by James Baldwin’s “I am Not Your Negro”

 

Negroes are born
without name
without record
they are boys despite age
Uncles
Johns
Negroes are sign language
using symbols to communicate
their existence
born without land
without placement
without ownership
what King referred to as
“a degeneration
of nobodyness”
they are sojourners
wandering from person to person
in search of themselves
Negroes are born
without heritage
without honor
without pride
without mothers
their umbilical cords
cut
their screams muffled with injustice
their bodies sold
and bellies stuffed with lies
Negroes bleed death
and cannot recognize their own corpse.

But we are not Negroes.

We are soil and Earth
lips that sing
mouths and song and praise.
We are bodies and flesh
veins and blood and salt
We are salt
of the Earth.

Seasoning.

We are crowns and rubies and pearls
eyes and nose
vision and smell.
We are scripture and fire
and dripping honey
We are blood, teeth, and bone
We are people
brave. proud. strong.
But we are not your

Negroes.

Careful Not to Tie Your Self-Worth into Not Achieving Your Goals

After much thought, I pushed the release for Keep Yourself Full (my first Inspirational Non-Fiction book) back to August (now reflected in the sidebar….new release date is 8/6). There’s a lot going on in July. The Book Festival, the Book Signing before that, our mini family road trip (next week! yayy) and I’m back in school so there’s no way I’ll have time to focus on releasing another book in the same month. This led me to a reminder I think we all need to hear every now and again.

Raise your hand if you get down on yourself when you do not accomplish what you set out to do. Maybe you had to push a date back, abandon a project or maybe you failed at executing something. I’ll be the first to raise mine. I get so frustrated, but I’ve learned something along the way: not to tie not achieving a goal to my self-worth. I am still worthy even if I do not achieve what I set out to when I set out to. My purpose is the same and my time will come. (Rom. 8:28)

“By tying your self-love and self-acceptance to a goal, your happiness corresponds to its achievement. When you reach your goal, your self-esteem rises temporarily; when you don’t, you think less of yourself as you have chosen to conditionally love yourself based on the success or failure of your obtaining this goal. Now the expectation of what “should be,” controls you.”

– The Mastery of Self by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr, son of Don Miguel, author of The Four Agreements.

The Mastery of Self is a great inspirational read. I just finished it and it has helped me tremendously in this decision. I recommend it. (The Fifth Agreement is also a decent read, though not as good as The Four Agreements in my opinion.) Goals help to keep us accountable but not achieving them does not make us useless or unimportant. Rest when you need to. Push that date back if you need to. Don’t rush. What is yours is still yours. It will wait for you. Even if you need to ghost Social Media for a while. Take care of yourself. We will be here when you get back.

Author Caution: Be careful putting all your eggs in one Basket

 

Since B&N was sold (no panic neccessary….related article links below) and since Instagram went down (again), the time is right to repost this message. It’s long but I recommend reading all the way through. It was originally published December 5, 2018 after Facebook went down. Since then both Facebook and Instagram have had continual glitches, Google Plus is no more and Createspace is now Kindle Direct Publishing.
 
 
After experiencing multiple problems with Facebook the other day, amazon admitting to accidentally sharing people’s personal information, and reading Derek Murphy’s email about hacks, author websites and updating passwords, I think it’s time to publish a post that has been sitting in my drafts (and in my heart) for some time. It has also been a while since I’ve dedicated significant time to this blog and as we come upon the end of the year; I think it’s a good way to get us thinking about potential changes in 2019.
 
Be careful putting all your eggs in one basket.
 
 
When the stock market crashed in 1929, it shocked people. They couldn’t believe they couldn’t get their money out of the banks. It was like in the movies when there’s a natural disaster or alien invasion. Right before it all comes crashing down, life is perfect. A family is sitting at the table eating breakfast. Soccer moms are dropping their children off to school and dads are hoping for that corporate promotion. And then it happens, right there. You are at the breakfast table eating a bowl of cereal and your kitchen floor splits in half with your toddler on the other side of that half.
 

This is how quickly things change.

Life before the crash was great. People were doing well. People bought stocks with easy credit. During the 1920s there was a rapid growth in bank credit and easily acquired loans. People encouraged by the market’s stability were unafraid of debt. People were comfortable. So comfortable that they weren’t prepared when it all came crashing down. Not everyone was as affected though. The great depression didn’t affect poor people as much as those who had wealth because poor people were used to having nothing. Many of them were also already growing their own food, and already self-sufficient. They had to be innovative and entrepreneurial to survive.

There is a bitter and yet wry statement which was made by blacks about the depression. They said in the south that the depression had been going on for ten years before black people even know about (laughs)… knew it existed.”  – Maya Angelou
 
 

Social Media has made it possible to make millions with online-only businesses. No longer do you need a college degree or fancy training to start a business online. Social media and e-courses changed that. Writers can now publish their own books without a traditional publisher. Independent Publishing has been around for a long time, but Print on Demand took it to another level. Print on Demand services are platforms where authors can upload manuscripts easily and quickly online and order print copies of their books. Platforms such as Lulu, Kindle Direct Publishing and Bookbaby are examples. Not only is it easier than ever to publish books, but it‘s easier to make millions from social media alone. Professional Instagrammer or YouTuber are legit business titles now. College kids are dropping out to become YouTube stars and Insta-celebrities. Because of advanced technology you don’t need to understand code to build a website yourself or need a fancy camera to shoot a movie anymore. With a basic understanding of video editing you can do this with your iPhone.

Life is good.

But remember how quickly things change.

Social Media is changing. People are more outspoken about privacy and data use. Facebook is being more strict about limitations so it’s difficult to do any promotion without buying ads (and although we do it anyway, we’re not supposed to use our personal pages as business pages). Algorithms don’t show everyone‘s post and Facebook is losing readers because of problems like the one I faced the other day (where I couldn’t log in). Facebook is constantly down and Google+ and Createspace have already closed down. Although Social Media looks good now, I wouldn’t be surprised if it, like the stock market, drastically changed so that users have to either pay for accounts or it unexpectedly closed down completely. Poof. Gone. Tragedies often happen suddenly.

gold

“By the mid-1800s, most countries wanted to standardize transactions in the booming world trade market. They adopted the gold standard. It guaranteed that the government would redeem any amount of paper money for its value in gold. That meant transactions no longer had to be done with heavy gold bullion or coins. It also increased the trust needed for successful global trade. Paper currency now had guaranteed value tied to something real.” (Amadeo, K. 2018, 17 April. History of the Gold Standard.)

The history of paper money is worth the research and is too extensive to go in depth here but in short, the dollar began its decline on being backed by gold when the Gold Standard was suspended and even more after the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Paper money was only receipts that represented a certain amount of gold. When the Gold Standard was suspended more receipts were printed, printing receipts caused hyperinflation and money hasn’t been the same sense.

What does this mean / have to do with authors?

“This isn’t 1955 where we can use a typewriter and write a book every year and a half and make money to live off of while we do book tours. Might as well get in the horse and buggy business.” – Kristen Lamb
 
Putting your eggs in one basket is a phrase which means that one should not concentrate all efforts and resources in one area as one could lose everything. For Authors, putting your eggs in one basket could mean many things.

Holding onto Outdated Information about Book Publishing

I know you see celebrities going on book tours and all that but don’t let that make you look down on Self-Publishing because it has changed the game. Traditional Publishing is not the giant it used to be. Sure traditionally published authors still get tons of publicity but the digital era is here and while huge bookstore chains like Barnes and Noble are struggling, Indie Bookstores and Indie Publishers are thriving. The key to Self-Publishing is in the ebooks big publishing companies thought would never work. “In a dismal twist of fate, NY helped self-publishing transition from ‘shunned last-ditch of the hack wanna-be writer’ into a viable and respectable publishing alternative.” (Kristen Lamb) Don’t let your perception of success cloud your judgment. The Big Six (or is it 5 now?) is not all it’s cracked up to be. And since we’re talking about not putting our eggs in one basket, nothing is as it’s cracked up to be. Amazon can be in the same boat as Barnes and Noble.

Using Social Media to build your business without a website

Investing in a business website is one of the most basic ways of running a successful business. Instead of just create a Facebook page or Instagram account, consider also creating a website. It’s not expensive and can even be a one page website but it’s good to have. You can also use your blog as your website as we discussed before (because it doesn’t make much sense to spend money on a full website if you have one or no books out). Using social media without a website is putting your eggs in one basket because social media is not stable. Likes does not mean sales unless you have somewhere to direct people to purchase your books. Social media is not the final destination or at least it shouldn’t be. Social media is a doorway that must lead to a place. Your website is that place.

❌Only marketing and promoting your books online

“Social media is an important part of your business but it shouldn’t be the ONLY part of your business.”
– Cici aka The Six Figure Chick
 
By only focusing on promoting and marketing and selling books online you are leaving money on the table and I don’t mean to sound like it’s all about money. It’s obviously not but for writers who want to make a living out of publishing books, money is pretty important. Although people talk about the death of print, radio and traditional media is still a big deal. There are still many people who aren’t tech savvy, still many people who prefer to visit libraries and bookstores, still many who prefer print books, and still many who want to see you in person or hear you speak. If you are already outspoken, this is an extra good thing for you. You’ll have no problem networking at events and meeting new readers. If you’re an introvert (like me), events help you come out of your shell and meet new readers who can follow you online. My social media pages don’t have many followers but my numbers go up after every event. While I don’t think requiring your presence to make your money is wise (because I mean, the technology is here), scheduling at least one public appearance (such as a book signing) every now and again is a good way to meet your readers face to face.

❌Only publishing books. (Neglecting other ways of making long-term sustainable income as an author)

I recently attended the inaugural We Buy Black Convention in Atlanta where hundreds of black-owned businesses convened to support one another. There, I met Real Estate Super Agent Lisa Puerto, one of the featured speakers during one of the business talks (Jay Morrison was another speaker and Dr. Boyce Watkins was another speaker but I missed them). Long story short, my husband and I loved her passion so much that although we aren’t into real estate, we were ready to buy her book when she finished and got to chat with her after the segment.

Here’s the thing that surprised me though: her table was basic. Black table cloth, books and business cards. It looked similar to my table at the signing at Nubian books earlier this year! (see pic) There weren’t any fancy fixings but her line stretched down the hall and her business cards were getting picked up like candy. She had wowed us with her passion alone and her voice was big enough to outdo any banner. I say all of this to say I’ve learned that public speaking is how we as authors get the message out about our books. Instead of promoting the book, we could promote the message of the book and help people to understand why it’s worth their time to read our stories. It’s why celebrity authors go on book tours where they get to speak to the audience and despite how we feel about her, Omarosa sold the mess out her book just by talking about it!

The book is important, but it is not the only way of making money as an author. Once you’ve established yourself as an author and have made waves with your books (please do this first), you can expand into other things such as teaching, coaching, and public speaking, as additional income sources. Only writing books is another form of putting your eggs in one basket because you’re limited to just one income stream. If you write full time (no day job, spousal support, no side hustle, e.g.) this is especially important. In striving to make a living from writing alone (once you’ve been established for a while), it’s a good idea to expand your brand beyond just writing books.

❌Not having an email list

Email lists aren’t for everyone (and certainly not before you have built some kind of audience to send them to), but could be useful if there is no more social media (blogs included). This will make the email list of great value alongside your website. It becomes another way for you to connect to your audience on a personal level. While I don’t have many subscribers, I can say with the integrity I have more subscribes than unsubscribes and I am learning more and more how to better manage my team. Every business has an email marketing to accompany their business. I don’t know why writing has to be any different. Do you want to know why people don’t take Indie writers seriously? Because we assume the basic rules of running a business doesn’t apply to us. Yes, you can opt not to do certain things as there are no rules, technically. However, there are basics and you can‘t opt out until you fully understand the basics. A website, email list, social media, and a payment method are among the foundational basis of an online business. Your website is your home, your email list is your connection, your social media pages (includes blog) is your traffic and interaction, and your payment method/shopping cart is how you get paid. These are the basics.

❌Publishing on Amazon exclusively while neglecting other retailers

I think relying too heavily on Amazon is a mistake. I think a smart person would definitely have their books on Amazon but that they will also explore other retailers. It‘s about balance. Say what you want about them but having books on Amazon is just good business sense (you have to look at it the way readers do…they will search for your book on Amazon first before anything), but that doesn’t mean we have to only have books on amazon. One of the most valuable ways to sell your books is through your own author website! The reason Amazon is winning is that mostly we are promoting it. Our books may be present on other sites but if we aren’t promoting those links alongside Amazon, we cannot expect to see sales through those channels. How many times do you promote links to your book on Kobo? Barnes and Noble? Smashwords? Your own author website? If you’re honest with yourself your answer would be like mine, very little. If something were to happen to Amazon, do you know of any alternative ways of publishing? Have you educated yourself or are you only sticking with the zon? Publishing only on Amazon is putting your eggs in one basket because if amazon suddenly crashed it will take your eggs with it.

Private Business Social Media Pages

Setting your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook author pages to private. I simply don’t understand this. Not only is nothing private online, but you are losing out on potential readers. Unless your goal is not to sell books or reach readers, it is a good idea that your author pages are public. They don’t necessarily have to be business pages but it’s not a good idea if they are private. Here’s why:

A reader comes across your page from whatever source. Someone has referred them to you or they liked your bio. They go to your Instagram page to see more of your work and get a feel for who you are but your page is set to private. They go to your Twitter page, it’s set to private. They go to like your Facebook page and hit the private wall. Few people will send you a request. Most people will leave and not come back. Why? Because if you’re using social media for any kind of business (and if you wrote a book, you are in business) potential readers/clients shouldn’t have to follow you to see what you offer.

Private business pages force people to follow you just to see what you are about. If you are that afraid of scammers and trolls then you should probably not be on social media. I’m just being real with you here. If your social media pages are business pages, if you are trying to connect with readers and clients, why is your page private? That is just not good business sense unless your goal is only to reach the choir. 

❌Wasting time arguing about whether Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing is better.

These debates are a waste of time (this is coming from the person who thinks nothing is a waste of time) and forces authors into putting their eggs in one basket. Publishing Independently works for me but I won’t sit here and say I will never traditionally publish a book if it came time for it. There’s a time and place for everything and I am at a place where Independent Publishing works well for me. (Indie Publishing is also thriving right now). I cannot say this won’t change because I cannot predict the future. There’s nothing wrong if you suddenly went the traditional route or if you decided to self-publish because the value doesn’t change. You are still worthy no matter how you publish. By making this out to be some competition we lose sight of what really matters and create self-imposed limitations. This bullet point differs from the others and may seem out of place but that’s why I must mention it. It’s a low-key way of putting your eggs in one basket. Self-Publishing is one basket and Traditional Publishing is another basket. You are not limited to just using one. It’s okay to keep your options open.

This post will be too long to cover every single area of how we leave money on the table by putting all our eggs into one basket but here are some additional areas:

Neglecting audiobooks

Not developing a business plan for your writing business / not legalizing your writing business

Not listing your books on Goodreads or creating an Amazon Author Central Page

Discounting your books / products online so much that it undermines your business

Not discounting your books / products at events and conferences. (People aren’t going to pay $20 for a Self-Published book from an unknown author. Unless you’re already a celebrity or very good at persuasion, most people won’t take the chance. Discount your books when you sell them in person!)

Consider not relying on one way of doing things. People say that you don’t own social media but that is true for everything online. You don’t own that blog no more than you own that email list, no more than you own those social media pages.

I have to say, when Facebook tripped, as it often does, I was so happy that I at least have a website and email list to direct people to. If I had to rely on my Facebook page only, it would have caused me to panic as Facebook not working would mean losing all my contacts. Social media is an excellent tool as I can sit here and write to people all over the world from my computer. But traditional media still holds weight and that face-to-face “old stuff” still works as an option to connect you to your readers. People thought farming was old too until it was the poor black farmers whose homegrown food fed them during the depression. The same thing for social media. Those who neglect digital are doing themselves a great disservice as well. Balance is the key to all of this.

The eleven sons of Jacob survived and flourished because their brother Joseph, who had become second in command to Pharaoh through his gift of properly interpreting the Pharaoh‘s dream, had created storehouses throughout Egypt where the people could come and buy food. When his brothers left Canaan for Egypt, they could find refuge. Could we learn from this? Could we be the Joseph’s of our day? Or will we wait until the famine wipes out all we have?

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Small Growth is still Growth

It’s hard running a small business. Independent Artists (authors, publishers, musicians, filmmakers, etc.) aren’t backed by huge companies and corporations and many of us don’t have millions of dollars in the bank. In fact, most small business owners still have 9-5s because, like you, we have bills to pay and families to provide for. But the truth is most people only see the result, the finished book, the mastered track, the Indie film. You don’t see the prayers that go up, the tears that come out, and hope that what you are doing is not in vain. You don’t see the depressed spirits of artists who lack support and feel like giving up. Sometimes it can be so overwhelming that it doesn’t seem as if you are making progress at all.

That’s why noticing small growth is important to me. I don‘t post about my work for applause, fake pats on the back or to look important. I post and get excited about it because baby steps still move us forward. Even when it’s something small and even when it may seem silly to others I am free and I have the freedom of celebrating where I am on the way to where I am going. It’s time we stop waiting until we’ve become Bestsellers to see the value in our work.

In these moments let’s remind ourselves that progress does not have a price tag, it’s not a social media meme, and it’s not a popularity contest. If you went from $0 to $10, you have progressed. If you went from no book sales at a signing to five books sold, you have progressed. If you’ve gone from wanting to publish a book to holding that book in your hands, you have progressed. Even if you’ve only moved from the bottom of the bookshelf squeezed between books where hardly anyone will ever see it, to the top of the poetry section (yours truly) you have progressed! Stop waiting to be some kind of celebrity before you realize the value in your work. Growth is growth no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

If you love poetry, black history, or self-care literature and you are in the Marietta/Atlanta area, I’d appreciate you investing in me by stopping by this B&N (address below) and purchasing a copy of my poetry book, I am Soul or grab and review the ebook on Amazon here. (Listen to my poetry on YouTube here).

Thank you for your time, attention, and support of a small business owner. Remember that support begets support.

Store Location:

Barnes and Noble Booksellers

The Avenue West Cobb

3625 Dallas Hwy

Suite 40

Marietta, GA 30064