Monthly I participate in a Mastermind Call with some of the most phenomenal women that I have met on the interwebs.
Getting close to a year in, it has already yielded some amazing results not just in things that we have accomplished but in the sense of community and support it has created. Many, if not all of us are writers, and this idea of self-publishing came up in which one of the women said something that we all had to nod profusely to. “I am not a self-published author but an author that’s self-published.”
Slightly modifying the order in which we say it, changes so much about the statement. I guess when you strip it down it becomes a simple case of what came first the chicken or the egg? Does your writing a book make you an author or having a publisher make you one? For me, I have never felt any sense of shame or unworthiness based on the fact that I published my own book. Do you know how proud I was the moment that I looked down and saw my name printed on a book cover? You may have no idea if you’ve never completed the task, but let me tell you, the tears were fought back.
See, I have been writing all my life. I’ve won awards, and essay contests and speech competitions and the like. I have been reading since I was 4 or 5 years old. Being published has probably always been in the back of mind while reading other people’s books that encouraged me that I could probably write just as well if not better. But I am not sure in the midst of my dream if I ever differentiated between whether publishing my own book or going with a publishing company would be more or less validating as a writer. Let me tell you how I ended up on the self-publishing path.
I had preliminary conversations with a friend who is a notable attorney and told her I was working on a manuscript. I thought self-publishing would have been the route the whole time, but she encouraged me to write a book proposal and shop it to agents. So I did the research. It was a faith-based book and so I looked into the agents that represent some of my fave Christian authors and began hunting them down. I read their submission processes and started letting pitches rip. Then the rejections came in. I mean even some in regular mail. It shocked me they would send hard copy rejections.
I’m sure I was a bit defeated but it was never really my thought that I would shop to major agents anyway! It was something someone suggested to me. So then I hosted my first Bold, Brown & Beautiful event in Washington, DC and afterwards, Alex Elle who participated in the event came out to dinner with me and my family. As our conversation went various places, we talked about her book “Words from a Wanderer” which did amazing. Alex gained her following through the natural hair surge and her jewelry business and then let her light shine through her writing. As we discussed writing and books I told her of shopping my book and she began to break down so many points about maintaining control, the monetary implications and much more. And she gave me a website. Createspace.
The book that I was shopping is completely not the first book that I released! HAHA! It’s still in the tuck, waiting for its moment. But there it was. Here was my opportunity to forget about the rejection letters and take the matters of my own writing into my own hands. And so I worked MY BUTT off. Dear Love was a collection of love notes that all started on Instagram. I was compiling these love notes that people liked and writing more content to fill out the book. I had to scour through, collect them all, re-type them, add additional content and SPEND HOURS on end researching fonts and formatting and all the things that go into producing your own book. And this is a short book people, but let me tell you! It was work.
Once the book was created, I began thinking of marketing strategies via social and traditional mediums. I secured a couple brand partnerships, speaking engagements, planned a sold-out release event, and MUCH MUCH more. 3 years later I am still at times doing things regarding Dear Love. Hello Dear Love Brunch! Nonetheless, I did everything for my own book that a big publishing company does, just by myself.
Does a publishing company have a bigger reach? ABSOLUTELY! Does a publishing company make you an author? No. Finishing a book makes you an author. Hustling to get the word out about that book makes you an author. Spending nights on end editing and formatting and all that beautiful stuff makes you a hell of a person really! So in more recent conversations where I am asked, “So who is your publisher?” I proudly say, “Me.”
CLICK TO TWEET /// Finishing a book makes you an author. Hustling to get the word out about that book makes you an author.
Listen, I am not knocking getting a book deal. I mean, sure that’s a dream. But that’s a dream that also comes with some very real expectations, deadlines, and lots of other opinions on who and what your book should be. In the space that I am in now, I feel like I may actually have some bargaining power at that table if I can already show how much I can do on my own. And if a publishing company NEVER looks my way, I AIN’T mad at the opportunities that many other authors that are self-published have created for themselves. HELLO? Some of these writers are pappin (you have to read that like Cardi B.) Listen there are words to be written and schmoney to be made. Don’t ever doubt yourself because you are an author that took an untraditional route.
CLICK TO TWEET /// Don't ever doubt yourself because you are an author that took an untraditional route.
While I’m waiting for that call from Harper’s Collins or Little Brown or Oprah to be on Soulful Sunday, you will find me right here, writing, being excellent and publishing books.
Speaking of which, Love on Purpose is coming. Are you ready?
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