Where do I begin: To-dos Before Self-Publishing

So you’re a thinker, and as a thinker you’ve been writing, journaling, doodling and/or drawing. Now, you’ve hit the point where you’ve got a draft together of all your creativeness; something that you’re proud of and wouldn’t mind sharing with the masses. And then it hits you like a brick wall to self-publish your piece.

The idea grows, but what is the first step? How can you self-publish your own book?

Answer: The first step is to weigh if you really want to self-publish or go to a publishing house.

Here are some thoughts to consider when thinking about the world of publishing. This is insight I’ve learned from my own self-publishing experience and what I’ve learned about going to a publishing house through other creatives. Let’s weigh the options in several different categories.

1) Control
Self-pub: Going Indie is a freedom ride. Indie is a cool word to use for creative freedom in the any arena, but we’ll focus solely on writing. It allows you to have the freedom to write what you want, how you want to and make direct decisions on how you will market your work.Which also means that you have to have your hands in everything…EVERYTHING! You find your own editors; you find your own cover designers or do it on your own; you put out any and all messages promoting your book; you choose a book publisher; proof all printing proofs and any other components that you need to launch you book. On the other hand…

Pub. House: Depending on the size of the publishing house, your contract, and the publishing house’s processes, you may only have limited freedom when it comes to your cover, and different aspects of your writing style/topic. Commercial attraction is key for many publishers. A lot of times, just like in any industry, a successful publishing house has a good handle on what audiences like and will more than likely drive you to look at writing in a different angle than where you might have started. Which isn’t a bad thing, just different. And rather than having you hands in any and everything, they will take a lot of that work off of your plate. There are some smaller publishing house that ask you to handle the marketing side (social media, book tours, printed/digital promotion, etc.) while they work on getting your book on larger platforms and om circles you probably wouldn’t have been able to get to on your own.

2) Timing
Self-pub: Your finger is on the launch button. You decided to put it out to the public today or wait until next year. Self-publishing seems to give immediate gratification, at least on the end of finally releasing your work to the world on your time. Maybe not so much on the sales side…but maybe so for both.

Pub. House: There are so many steps that can occur far before a publishing house even gets your work. For 10 years, J.K. Rowling submitted her work to publishers before getting picked up. Dr. Seuss was turned down 27 times before his first book was published. And the mighty James Patterson was turned down 31 times before his first book was picked up. But look at them now—staples in the writing community. Legends for their perseverance and dedication to their passion.

3) Dollars
Self-pub: You pay for it all, which will dictate a lot of what and how you do things. Will you do a paper back or just an e-book? If you do a paperback, will you have an in-person book launch event or virtual? How much money do you have for marketing, because you HAVE to do marketing for your book in-order to get visibility? What’s the budget for editors and cover designers? Oh don’t forget about the copyrighting fee. Don’t get it twisted, being an indie author is a business, and just like most start-ups you’re probably going to be in the red your first year. Be prepared and stay optimistic.

Pub. House: The insight I have on the financial aspect with a publishing house is very little, but I’ll share the little I do know. For some, usually smaller ones, you have to finance any marketing that you do (ads, book tours, printed materials, etc.). And some larger publishing houses you don’t have pay anything upfront, but you don’t see anything until you make a profit. Much like what you see in the music biz…but again don’t quote me on this one.

4) Preference
Self-pub: Sometimes making the choice to self-pub or shoot for a publishing house is just a simple preference. Some self-publishers are creative beasts and refuse to the let anyone take hold of their creative pieces. Much like Chance the Rapper, who just turned down 10 millions dollars to stay an independent artist. For some, the value of being your own boss is worth all the work, stress, hours, missteps and all the other obstacles that may come with self-publishing. I have to agree that by self-publishing my book, I woke my soul. I’ve learned a lot and now I’m able to share that with whoever wants to listen.

Pub. House: For some creatives, the reason to choose this route is simply because they don’t want to be all up in the weeds; they just want to write. They don’t mind bringing in experts to handle all the “logistics” behind publishing the book. The less distractions on how to publish the easier it is for them to focus on one thing only—their words. But this isn’t to say they don’t give input, they just don’t execute that portion.

The Grey Area
Times have changed and self-publishing is constantly changing the writing game. So much so that a lot of writers just release their work on platforms like Wattpad, Kindle, serial writing sites or blogs, and then are picked up by publishers. And then there are those who have been picked up by larger publishing houses and decide to switch to the indie route.

Everyone’s publishing journey is different, but one commonalty that I’ve learned from the stories of various iconic and historic writers in both camps, is that their dedication to their craft is endless; their work ethic is superior; and there’s no one who can take their words away from them. Those words keep them breathing every day and remind them to stay focused on the message that they must share with the world.

As I look back at this exciting past year of self-publishing, I’m so happy I ventured out in that avenue, but now after doing all the work, I wouldn’t mind someone taking the reins now.

I’m a true believe that God is in control of everything, and no matter which route you decide to go, go at it 110%. If you’re like me, you really don’t have any other choice because this journey is what is etched in our purpose and we refuse not to live it to its fullest.

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Like. Love. Lust Playlist: Top 5 Songs You Can’t Forget About for V.Day

It’s Valentine’s Day! And since my poetry book Like. Love. Lust. is currently on sale (ebook on amazon) I figured I would share my top five songs for each category. Some of these songs were floating around in my head when I wrote this piece and I think they will definitely help to get your V.day going. Oh and let me know if I missed any songs..there’s so many good ones out there!

LIKE

5) 4 Page Letter – Aaliyah

4) Candy Girl – New Edition

3) Groove With You – Isley Brothers

2) Rock With You – Michael Jackson

1) Come and Talk to Me – Jodeci

LOVE

5) That’s The Way Love Goes – Janet Jackson

4) Weak – SWV

3) Halo – Beyoncé

2) Ordinary Love – Sade

1) Butterflies – Michael Jackson

LUST

5) Turn Off The Lights – Teddy Pendergrass

4) Freak Me – Silk

3) Erotic City – Prince

2) Skin – Rhianna

1) Do You Mind – Janet Jackson

Extended Playlist (Because getting those list down to 5 were too hard)

I’ve Got Nothing – Whitney Houston

Let’s Stay Together – Al Green

Say Yes – Floetry

Let’s Wait Awhile – Janet Jacksonw

All The Time – Jeremih

Jupiter Love – Trey Songs

Knockin Da Boots – H-town

Bump N’ Grind – R. Kelly

Rocket – Beyoncé

Speechless – Beyoncé

Right Here – SWV f/ Michael Jackson

Fire and Desire – Rick James and Teena Marie

Crown Royal – Jill Scott

Why This Indie Author is Trying to Boss Up

I’ve learned a lot over this pass year after releasing my first two books through indie channels. And I’m no longer scared to say that I’ve partnered with Createspace to print my paperbacks and to get ebooks on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (I’ve heard that’s a no-no to say in the indie world). But what I didn’t realize is that I would have to give half my soul in order to do so.

Now, all those channels are great channels, and must haves for any author; but this author is tired of getting the preverbable rug pull from under her.

I don’t write for money, but when I decided to put out my two pieces I figured, why the hell not. Let’s see if they can take you somewhere financially.

After investing in editors, a cover designer, copywriting and all those other necessities for getting a book ready for publication, I decided to go with Createspace since they seemed to have a one-stop shop set up. Which was a good idea because I wasn’t going to hand press and bind these books. Hell naw!

But here’s the downside: Createspace, plus the channels they are connected with, all take a piece of your creative pie. They provide you a service and/or platform to sell your book and as payment for their gracious display of book love, they take a nice chunk out of your sales. More like, they eat the whole thing and then spit out crumbs for you.

So here’s the breakdown: For my latest release, Like. Love. Lust., priced at $15.99 with color artwork and 67 pages, Createspace takes 53%; Amazon takes 72%; and expanded channels 92% of my damn pie. They give a very “thorough” reason for this royalty system, but this indie author wants—hell needs—more of my pie.

Since I need these channels, I decided not to pull my book, but to open my own book shop, i.e. Shop Passion-Fy, to try to take some of my book business power back. Yes, I have to pay to hold the domain and run the shop, and yes I have to ship everything on my own, but there is still a greater chance of it benefiting me, the writer and creator, in the end. This boss is bossing up, at least until a publisher is ready to lock me up. And if this turns out to not be the right move, I’ll shut it down and move a different way. Like I’ve told you in an early post there’s really no formula for any indie writer.

So if you’re into supporting this amazing craft and want to do so through my store, please use code VDAY17 to save 20% off your first order from Shop Passion-Fy.

Are you are writer or creator who has had to boss up too? Share and let me know how it’s going. Tell me what’s been working for you.

The Miseducation of Semicolons

The angst in each breath was daunting; my lungs couldn’t find life again.
OR
The angst in each breath was daunting. My lungs couldn’t find life again.

This is my life. To semicolon or not to semicolon…that is the question. And I’m sick of trying to answer it but then a ray of light burst through the clouds.

My dear friends at The Write Practice (okay, I don’t know anyone there but I swear it feels like I’ve met them), have helped to ease my mind about this ridiculous drama behind the semicolon.

In their article When To Use a Semicolon, they give two great ways and things to think about when we all go through this dilemma.

Here’s a couple of rules they suggested:

1. Each clause of the sentence needs to be an independent clause.
You know what an independent clause is, right? You’re writers! Sometimes, however, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the semicolon, and you’ll want to use it everywhere. Don’t.

If you’re going to use it, make sure that each clause can stand on its own as a fully formed sentence. If it helps, mentally separate the two clauses with a period to test their independence.

Justin didn’t walk; he ran. Justin didn’t walk. He ran.

2. Use them sparingly.
It can get exhausting for your reader if there is too much going on in one sentence. If there is too much going on in each sentence for a full paragraph, that may result in reader mutiny, and you’re going to have trouble bringing them back. Use the semicolon to connect ideas that are related, but don’t try to connect every single idea in a paragraph. Periods are your friends (at least in this context).

Ellie subtly flared her nostrils; the smell of lilac and lavender filled the air; it reminded her of her summers in the hills of Ohio; she and her cousins would make crowns of daisies and give them to their mothers.

For the love of God and the sanity of your readers, do not do this.

Ellie subtly flared her nostrils. The smell of lilac and lavender filled the air; it reminded her of her summers in the hills of Ohio. She and her cousins would make crowns of daisies and give them to their mothers.

Did that brighten your semicolon day? If so, or not, let me know. What are you thoughts about the mighty semi C (yep, I gave it a nickname)?