Saturday, December 20, 2014

It Was All A Dream...

I finally got the condo overlooking the city that I dreamed of living in! Let this be a testimony that hard work, faith, and persistence really does pay off!

A Website is Mandatory for any Business

A website is mandatory for any business--at least one that wants to be taken seriously. Now I'm not going to lie and say they are cheap to be produced. However, there are other, more cost-effective alternatives. Sites like Wordpress and Wix offer free and affordable options to get your own site up and running.

If you're not technology savvy (like myself) I would invest in hiring a skilled person or team to design one. Shop around and don't settle on the first option. Always check the designer's portfolio and possible references if there are any.

More Inspirational Books I Highly Recommend! ;)

My Favorite Promotional Item...

If diamonds are a girl's best friend, then bookmarks are authors. They are by far my favorite promotional item. Why you might ask? Because they are very affordable to get designed and printed up. With mine, I keep it pretty simple. Typically my book cover(s) is on the front, and the synopsis is printed on the back. I also make sure to have contact info located somewhere on it so that readers can find me. 

Several business offer both for reasonable prices. However, my favorite is Another printing site I love is Over the last few years I've come to find out just how helpful bookmarks can be. Not only are they great for slipping into conversations, you can also leave them in stores, libraries, etc. (with permission of course). Bookmarks are great for drawing visibility--especially if you have an eye-catching design. I highly recommend using a professional graphic designer!

Remember, no one's gonna push you like YOU! Branding is a key factor to success! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Every Author Needs a Professional Photo

You might not want to face it, but the fact of the matter is, every author should have a professional photo. It can either be a head shot or full body. You can even get fun and include your books, or have a graphic designer doctor it to your liking. If you cannot afford a professional photo shoot, look into hiring some local photographers who'll do it for little next to nothing in exchange for promotion. I've also been told that students/interns serve well in such situations. Depending on which route you take, this can be a very cost effective strategy...and something you can use for a while to brand yourself.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My First $15,000 Royalty Check

Nearly a year after writing full time, marketing consecutively, and building useful connections, I finally saw the reward of hard work and dedication. Popular titles such as "Ebony and Ivory", "Schemin" and the highly rated "Cameron"  peaked back to back on Amazon's bestseller list, growing my name and ultimately visibility. The most successful being the 7 part Cameron series which has proved to be a classic amongst urban readers.

My tip to Authors: Hard work and persistence really does pay off. The work doesn't stop after the book is published. You must push your product, and be consistent with your marketing effort. Self-publishing is NOT a get rich quick scheme. You truly have to put in the work to see the reward. The more you put in, the more you'll get back. I'm nowhere near close to Stephen King status but I guarantee I won't stop grinding until I am ;)

*** Picture was taken April of 2013 ***

I use Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Most of all my books are enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited Program. It's up to you to decide if the enrollment is worth it or not. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Another Online Platform I've Found Useful

Simply put, Goodreads is the Facebook for book lovers. There are hundreds of book clubs and thousands of potential readers waiting to discover new authors. I've found success in networking with readers and being as active as my free time permits. It took me a year or so to build a decent following, but it was definitely worth it. The giveaway tool is pretty neat as well, and the site boasts quite a few perks for authors such as campaigns and advertising. I strongly recommend every book lover and author join Goodreads. You'd be surprised at the connections you can make.

Highly Recommended Book!

Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson is another great readI highly recommend to my fellow entrepreneurs. A simple, fast-paced book that's easy to follow, I guarantee your entire outlook on life will change after reading this. Definitely one of my faves!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Very First Bestseller

Strongly based on real events from my personal life, Cameron chronicles a young stripper juggling school, work, and some less than reputable peers. You can now download this title for FREE on Amazon. 

Bought My Dream Car!

Two days after moving to Atlanta, I brought my dream car--well not the EXACT model--but close enough for me lol. Every day up until that proud moment in my life, I looked at the picture of the car, motivating myself and believing that it'd be mine soon. I encourage everyone to try this strategy. Create a vision board if you have to! Post all the great things you want to accomplish, the type of car you want to drive, the type of home you want to live in, and WORK towards it every single day. And don't just want it BELIEVE it. Anything you want, you can achieve with faith, determination, and hard work. I live by the 3 D's: Drive, Determination, and Discipline. If you can manage all three, you can have whatever you desire in the universe :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Moving from Cleveland to Atlanta for a Fresh Start and Opportunities!

Fall of 2012 was the season I made the biggest decision I've ever made in life. Believe it or not, I had never been to Georgia a day in my life, and I had no idea what to expect from the lifestyle. All I know is that one morning I woke up wanting a change. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love my hometown, but I was yearning for a fresh start. I wanted to meet new people--preferably like-minded ones.

I slept on the decision months before finally making my mind up. Putting all my reservations to the side, I scraped up as much money as I could: selling clothes and shoes to Plato's Closet, selling my video games, designing book covers (though my skill was minimal lol), typing up manuscripts, and borrowing from friends. I was determined to start fresh with a new career in a new city. Two months after carefully planning, I crammed all my belongings inside my '96 Regal, and took a 10 hour drive (ten for me since I drive at the pace of a snail lol).

At that time, the only other states I had ever visited was New York, Washington D.C, and Michigan. I didn't know what to expect when I moved down South. I had no family down in Georgia, and only one friend who thankfully guided me along the way. Although I was nervous, I had faith I'd fit in and adapt well over time

I didn't have much when I moved to Georgia. As a matter of fact, I had no more than $1500--which was just enough for the rent and deposit of the apartment. I'd only been writing full time for about two months, so I didn't have much saved up. I had no family down in Georgia, and only one friend who thankfully guided me along the way.

For those who don't know, Atlanta was NOT the first place I moved to. As a matter of fact, it was Augusta. Though a beautiful city with wholesome and friendly people, the pace just wasn't for me. However, I utilized my time there to my advantage. Since it was a slower pace and I didn't know many people, I spent many hours in my apartment, writing and networking online in an attempt to grow my audience. In that time, I wrote the highly rated novel "Ebony and Ivory"--one of my faves if I might say so myself ;)

I also took the time to go out in the city and network by spreading the word about my work to anyone who would listen. Every week I went to the mall and interacted with people which in turn led to paperback sales. That little bit of cash came in handy with groceries, gas, and things like that. So with that said, my advice to aspiring authors is NEVER SLEEP on 'on foot marketing'. You'll be surprised at the number of people you walk past every day who might ACTUALLY be readers. And don't be discouraged if there are people who won't want to hear your pitch. Remain polite and keep it moving.

Anyway, while living in Augusta I stumbled across a site known as Meetup; an online social networking platform that offers offline meetings in various locations around the world. I figured not only would this be a good way to meet new people, I could also introduce them to my work. I definitely encourage authors--and entrepreneurs--to join this site as it offers awesome perks. I've also sold a bunch of copies during the meetups to people I've met. There are tons of book clubs on there, so the possibility of potential readers are endless.

Another cool thing I did was hit the army base, Fort Gordon every other week. I was actually surprised by the number of great people I met not to mention the paperback sales. Truth be told, I'm an introvert and not much of a 'people person'. However, I knew I had to eventually come out of my shell if I wanted people to know my name and my work. A great author, Treasure Blue told me that once ;)

I stayed in Augusta about six months repeating the same strategy until I finally decided to move to Atlanta. As I mentioned before, Augusta was nice but the pace was a little slower than what I was looking for and used to. So April 19, 2013, I packed my furniture and belongings in a U-Haul and headed to ATL.

The pace and lifestyle was exactly what I was looking for, and I had no problem fitting in. The opportunities and good people are plentiful here. With a plethora of restaurants, you never run out of food options. Plus there's endless fun things to do. In my opinion, I think its ideal for both a family and professional singles. The cost of living and housing market are also a couple things I like about the city. Though it did take some adjusting, I have no complaints so far. I love it! And for those who haven't visited yet, you will too! :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Favorite Book And Movie

As writers, we all have our own muses; but for me I've found inspiration through Dennis Kimbro's novels "Daily Motivations for African-American Success" and "Think and Grow Rich." My favorite movie by far is "The Secret". Both have helped me not only through my writing journey, but in my personal life as well. If you're a fan of inspirational books/movies, I highly recommend them!

My First Royalty Check

$28 to be exact! Lol. Needless to say, I wasn't back flipping over my first little check. But pushing away any disparaging thoughts, I continued writing, hopeful that one day I'd be able to live comfortably off royalties. Less than six months later, I finally achieved that goal. Yet the task was far from easy. NO AUTHOR will be an overnight success. Up until that point, I marketed, interacted, and built relationships via Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. I wrote nearly every single day--often sacrificing leisure time and activities so I could finally have the following I was aiming for.

I can still remember many days when friends popped over, expecting me to go out only for me to turn them down. My whole point is, it takes time, patience, and ambition to see results. Sacrifices have to be made. Time and effort must be put in. I'm still not completely at where I want to be, but my goal is to keep pushing until I finally get to Stephen King status! Lol.

One of my favorite sayings is, "You Can't Have That Life Until You Put In That Work".

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Several Jobs I Worked At Before Starting My Writing Journey

Prior to living my childhood dream as a full time author, I led a pretty unenthusiastic life back in my hometown, Cleveland, Ohio. After dropping out of college, I had no idea which direction my life was going to go in. I was twenty-years old with bad credit, no degree, and no long-term goals. Plus the only real work experience I had was dancing at local gentlemen's clubs. I did that for three years until I finally grew tired of the drama and lifestyle. Yearning for a fresh start and something new--and a bit more safe--I began job hunting for available positions. At the time, I was twenty-one and had just gotten my first apartment--though I could barely afford to pay the $400 rent.

Sunoco in Maple Heights, Ohio was my first real job after climbing off the pole for good. Two days a week was all the manager could afford to give which netted in no more than $200 every pay period. Needless to say, I couldn't survive off such meager funds so I quit after several months and found my next position with Intercontinental Hotels. A housekeeper was not the chosen path I wanted, but the income was more than enough to get by. With no vehicle for transportation, I woke up everyday at 5 a.m. sharp and caught two buses to get to downtown Cleveland.

With my second paycheck, I finally brought a car; a burgundy '96 Buick Regal. It didn't look like much on the outside but it got me from point A to point B, and it was much better than having to catch the RTA in the winter blizzard.

I stayed with Intercontinental for about two months before quitting. Although the pay was decent, I honestly wasn't happy or fulfilled in life. I bounced around a few more jobs before finally figuring out that working a 9-5 was not for me.

Punching out of the time clock for good, I picked up a pen and paper and decided to pursue my childhood dream of becoming an author. It was 2011, and initially, my plan was to get picked up by a major publishing company like Triple Crown. However, after doing a few searches on Google, I quickly discovered Amazon's self publishing platform, KDP. Eager for the world to discover my stories, I anxiously uploaded my debut novel "Nobody's Perfect Angel." It took me about two months to write, and is a story chronicling the life of a young, naive girl named Angel who fell into the hands of a ruthless pimp. I was inspired to write the book after meeting a few females during my dancing days who had pimps of their own.

Words couldn't express how happy I was to finally have my book available for actual purchase. However, my entire world came crashing down when I received my first bad review. Unable to accept the criticism, I removed my novel and nearly gave up on my dream after believing I wasn't good enough. Yet after sulking for a few days, I finally got out of my funk, re-edited and re-structured "Nobody's Perfect Angel." Still unsure about releasing it, I continued on with my next project titled "My Brother's Keeper". After some well-received praise, I went ahead and published it, labeling it as my debut novel. Next, I re-released "Nobody's Perfect Angel" (now called "THOT"), and it has been a major hit with the readers since :)

Nearly, three years later, I'm so elated that I pushed through and kept going. If there's any advice I can give to other authors and aspiring authors, it's this. Please don't be discouraged by negative or less than favorable reviews. Use the criticism to your advantage and learn from your mistakes. You can only grow from there :)