My Thoughts As A New Author & What I Think Now!


The purpose of this blog is just to give a heads up to aspiring authors! Keep writing and keep working towards your goal!

Once my book is published, I’m going to hit it big!
While there are some authors who publish their first novel and hit it big, the majority of authors are nowhere near the level where they would like to be. Success takes a lot of grind and a lot of behind the scenes work that hardly anyone sees (or if they see it, it’s only a portion). Though it may seem that some authors put out a novel and hit it big, there was probably a whole lot of hard work that we didn’t see that contributed to their success.

Maintaining a website, Facebook and Twitter account will ensure that everyone knows about my work.
It is only a start. I can name about five people right now who have a Facebook account, but do not check it. There are also individuals who do not have internet access or have never even heard of Facebook and don’t dare mention Twitter! How do they find out about my work? This is where book signings and word of mouth comes in. Though I did not have a lot of book signings in the past because I couldn’t financially afford to travel or pay the fees, I have now discovered a more economical outlet that will allow me to reach more people beyond social media and help get my book out there (stay tuned for details!)

With an independent publisher, I will receive 15% in royalties based off the retail price of my book.
This thought was absolutely ludicrous. The royalty that is received is a small percentage of the amount that is left over after the print charge of the book is deducted and after the distribution channel takes their cut. For example, if a book is priced at $15, has a print charge of $6.12, Amazon along with other distributors may get a cut of 2.30, which will leave, 6.58. The author may receive 15% of that, which is .98. The rest goes to the publisher. If you only sell 34 books a month then you’ve made 33.32. The life of the rich and famous, right? As an independent author, I have received more in royalties for The Ace of Diamonds (AOD)  then I made last year for Diamonds in the Rough and Diamonds are Forever.

Book Festivals are probably affordable and if I save, I will be able to attend them.
This thought was a result of not doing proper research. The most affordable book festival I have discovered thus far is the one I am attending in April, hosted by Butterfly Editorial and the African American Author’s Expo. I wanted to attend For Sisters Only in Charlotte; however, the cost of a table is $500. I wanted to attend the SC Book Festival; however the cost of a table is $310. I heard that the Decatur Book Festival is one of the festivals that has the best sales so when I got the vendor information, I was ecstatic until I saw that the price of a table is $465. This is just the table fees. This does not include hotel, food, gas, marketing materials, or the books I have to pre-purchase to sell. I am not aware of everyone’s financial situation, but I cannot afford this. Even if I save, I will not have enough money to attend all of these festivals. The money is just not there. If you do have the money and want to donate it, comment or send me an email, lol. For right now, I am trying another approach.

Book Festivals are where people come to buy books. I’m guaranteed to sell out!
The only time I’ve sold out at a book event was at my book release party. When I went to a book fair in ATL, I sold 1 book, which was purchased by another author. When I attended the SC Book Festival, I sold 1 book as well throughout the entire 2 day event. However, when I attended the CLT Literary Festival, I sold 4 books out of the 6 that I brought. Of course, these are only examples and do not reflect every book event I attended. It also does not reflect an author’s success as a whole. My point is; do not fool yourself into thinking that you are going to sell out like I did. If you do, great, but if you don’t, at least you put your book out there!

One author suggested that authors who are not selling at events should look to see what other authors are doing that is selling. Out of every event I attended, with the exception of my book release party, I have been with other authors who ARE selling, but are doing the same thing I am- sitting there, greeting customers, being friendly, and talking about their books. There is nothing extra or special that they are doing that I am not. Some readers you win over, some you don’t.

Paying for interviews guarantees me a spot versus sending an email requesting for a free interview.
I thought this only because when I was sending emails requesting for a free interview or to participate in a blog series, the majority of the time, I would never get a response back. However, with the interviews I paid for, I got a quick response. I thought this to be true until recently when I paid for an interview and never received a word back from the host. I sent two follow-up emails, no response. I called the customer service number for the business and discovered that the number was disconnected. I have since filed a claim with PayPal regarding the issue and am hoping to receive some sort of response by the end of the month. Now, I believe that nothing is guaranteed.

If I send a request for a book review, I should get a response in 24-48 hours.
While this would be nice, it could take a week or two before a response is given. In one night, I sent emails to 10 book reviewers seeking reviews for my book, AOD. The next day, I received responses from 2. In a week, I had received responses from 3 more and maybe one more within the following week. What I’ve learned is that this is all a numbers game. If I want 20 book clubs or sites to review my book then I probably need to contact 60. Of course, this takes a lot of time and research, but it can be done throughout the year until I reach my goal.

I don’t care about sales; I only want to put a book out there for people to read.
Well, guess what, if the book isn’t selling then people aren’t reading (or they’re reading someone else’s copy). Now, I honestly believe that no one should let sales stop them from writing. If you let sales stop you from writing then you’re going to lose the readers who have supported you. Sometimes, we are so busy giving light to the negative that we forget about the positive. Keep your head up, keep writing, and keep being productive. At the end of the day, you will be happy just knowing that you did your best!

The Ace of Diamonds is currently available in ebook on the Kindle/ Nook and in paperback. Please visit http://www.crownjewelzpub.com, Amazon.com, and barnesandnoble.com to order a copy.

The Other Side of The Game


I have started writing this blog post several times only to delete it and push it aside. However, after several conversations with individuals who are seeking to join the publishing industry, my readers, friends, as well as other authors, I decided to move forward with the post.

When you tell people that you are a published author, more than 90% of them are instantly amazed and want to know how you got your book published. You share this knowledge and the conversation usually ends with them commending you on your achievement. The person then walks away, but if you’re like me, you may feel like you didn’t give them the complete truth of the ins and outs of the publishing industry.

Welcome to the other side of the game.

To me, the other side of the game represents the part of the publishing industry that people don’t see. Believe me when I say that writing the book is the fun part. However, after you write the book, the hard part begins. This is the part where you try to decide which route you’re going to take to being published.

You can self-publish, sign with an independent publisher, or get a literary agent and try to sign with a major. In the beginning, my first choice was to self-publish. However, there was one problem with this plan: I couldn’t financially afford it. To be honest, there are probably tons of writers out there now who are in the same situation. When you self-publish, you are your own bank. You fund everything, from the editing to the publishing of the book and marketing.

Now, most of us are aware of how much discretionary income we’ll have after bills are paid. I usually put gas, food, and hair services in this category since this is where my discretionary income generally goes. With the job that I had from 2007-2010, I was lucky if I had between 60-80 bucks left after bills were paid. Let me add that I got paid every 2 weeks.

To me, the idea of self-publishing seemed to be at the end of the tunnel. I knew that after I finished my book, the next step was finding an editor. The first editor I contacted had a very reasonable rate, but I just didn’t have enough discretionary income to pay for the editing. Yes, I could save, but it would take me forever and would create a financial strain.

To further illustrate, let’s do some basic math. A novel may be 227 pages single-spaced or 295 pages spaced at 1.5 lines, but most editors require the manuscript to be double-spaced. This takes the page count up to 440 pages. If an editor charges, $3.00 per page for copyediting then you are looking at shelving out 1320.00 in editing. Generally, half of this you will pay for upfront and the rest you will pay at the completion of the project.

Personally, I believe that the bulk of the money that you spend if you choose to self-publish should go towards your editing. However, spending $1320 in editing does not seem feasible for a person who only has 60 or 80 bucks in discretionary income. If I was still at this job and tried to save 30 bucks out of every paycheck (and let’s say that I had 80 bucks left in discretionary income), it would take me almost two years to be able to pay for the editing. I also would only have $50 left to go towards gas, food, etc. Speaking realistically, how many people would be able to survive on this? So far, most people have told me none.

If you are self-publishing, you have to think about more than the editing. If you are able to come up with the funds to pay an editor for your book then you also have to think of the funds associated with getting it published. Since I have some graphic design skills, I don’t have to pay for anyone to design my book cover or format my book. I save $$ in that area and just have to worry about the fees associated with getting it published and marketing.

Marketing does not just apply to self-published authors, but to everyone who is publishing a book. However, if you are a self-published author, all of the marketing is coming from you since you don’t have a publisher backing you. Now you have what I call free marketing which is: word of mouth, social networking, and the web. You then have the marketing that costs: virtual book tours (the ones I’ve found range from $50 – $150), advertising on sites (can be as little as $5 to in the thousands), reviews (some people do charge for book reviews while others do them for free like many book clubs, however this is considered as a charge because you have to send a free copy of your book which will not be returned), and of course book signing events.

You have to be financially prepared to handle all of this if you want your book to be successful. If you’re not financially prepared then you have to do the best that you can, which some people will not understand. Published authors generally know what to do to market their books because there is a wealth of knowledge on the internet with tips, but we don’t always have the financial means to do them. I say this for all people who have low discretionary incomes.

Here’s another example: You can write down a list of every book festival that you want to attend, but you also have to think about the cost of the table, how you are going to get there, gas, and if you need to get a hotel room. There are some ways to cut the costs like sharing a table and room, but it is still pricey depending on how far you’re going.

Now here come a couple of suggestions that I usually hear after this rant…

-Why don’t you get an English student to copyedit your book for way cheaper?

-Stop eating out, buying clothes/shoes, going to the movies, etc. to save more money

– Why don’t you take out a loan or ask for financial help from family and friends?

To the first, I will say that this is an option, which may work for some people. I, personally, would like a more trained eye, but this may work for some writers to cut costs. Next, when it comes to the luxuries of life, these will be the first things I would cut back on. However, there is only so much cutting you can do. There are still some things that you have to pay for just to keep up your physical appearance. For example, do not wear shoes with holes in them just because you’re trying to save for a book- by all means, buy a new pair!!!!! Last, in terms of a loan from friends and family, yes, you can do it, but I would be very skeptical to do so. I mean, I’m not asking for money to pay my rent or to keep my lights on, but to go towards a book. I put wanting to be a “published” author into the category of a want and not a need. Now if you know someone who wants to be in the publishing industry then teaming up with this person is beneficial. On the other hand, you may just know someone who just wants to help. To this particular point, I say, to each his own.

Kelis

In the end, I want to share a very important phrase that I learned from singer Kelis, “scared money don’t make none.” What this means is that in order to see success we’re going to have to spend money and make sacrifices. Nevertheless, you still have to take care of home first. Yes, you may have a book that you’re trying to promote, but you still need a place to lay your head. If it takes you a little longer to put out a book then so be it. At the end of the day, you’ll get there and that is the greatest accomplishment.

I am planning on self-publishing my third novel and am feeling every effects of the financial part of this industry. Still, I am going to keep my head high, save my dollars until I have what I need to put out The Ace of Diamonds. I encourage all of you struggling authors to do the same!