4 Things I Learned while Self-Publishing

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TUWcover2#1 Outsource your cover design; however, be mindful about how much you pay. The same person who designed the Kwoted cover also created The Unhappy Wife cover. This time around, she charged $265. This is not what I expected for a simple eBook jpeg. But instead of complaining, I paid her for it and then learned about a site called Fiverr. On Fiverr, you can find anyone to do anything digital for you. By the time I was ready for a cover for the paperback, I simply signed up, listed an ad with these words: I need a 6×9 paperback cover for Lulu specifications, and then narrowed my choices down from international graphic designers. Someone I didn’t know produced the paperback cover in less than 48 hours for $15.00!!!

img_1603#2 Outsource your editor. I started to ask an English major friend to proof and edit The Unhappy Wife, but everything I’d read stated that this should be completed by a paid professional. I used a book called 2015 Guide to Self-Publishing in order to find an editor. The book lists several different editors by state. I vetted a few Florida ones through email in order to determine cost and efficiency. Each one offered a free/sample editing of the first 500-1000 words. Once I emailed the story, I compared editing style, personality and expertise. For example, the editor who charged $700 had a lot of industry knowledge and mentioned book characteristics that I wasn’t familiar with. Another editor who charged significantly less didn’t notice things like number formatting. I decided to go with someone in the middle, Erin Foster Books. She had a great personality, didn’t charge an arm and a leg, and offered two passes (read and edited twice).

#3 Outsource the formatting because it has to be precise. You probably can figure out the formatting yourself, but by the time I’d written a book, revised a book, and edited a book, the last thing I wanted to do was format a book. eBook formatting is so very finicky. It has to do with styles, style changes, making the book reflowable, etc. (big yawn). Paperback versions have to be formatted totally different than eBooks because whatever you send to your distributor is what will be printed, exactly as is. Take it from me; just have someone else do it. In my case, I asked Erin. She was wonderful and both books were published with no issues.

#4 Choose your publisher/distributor wisely. I chose Amazon because it’s the largest retailer of eBooks and authors earn 70% profit, which is the highest in the industry. But because I’m also not a fan of having all of my eggs in one monopoly basket, I chose Lulu.com to publish/distribute the paperback. Again, Lulu is known for paying the largest profit (as long as you sell from their site). This site also offers mass distribution to places like Barnes & Noble. Finally, Lulu prints books that look and feel like traditional books. I’m sure you know what I mean.

If you’re planning to self-publish a book, then I hope this information helps you in some way. If you’ve already self-published a book, then what else would you add? You know I’m all about helping one another!

Monday Notes: Don’t Ask. 🤐

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img_2910I’ve been holding this in for a while. I almost named this, “Things I Wish Black People Would Stop Asking Me,” but people of all races and ethnicities ask these questions. Here goes.

Q1: Is Dwight Desi’s father?

No one has ever asked me this question. I suspect because it’s rude. However, people have asked Desi. She’s a few shades darker than Dwight, Kesi, or me. And I guess this causes confusion. They’ve asked this her entire life. She’s 15. If it was just her peers, then I probably wouldn’t be upset. But it’s not. The people who typically inquire are…adults. Yes. Adults ask her all the time.

“You two must have different fathers?” a hairstylist once asked.

You must be Dr. Garland’s daughter?” a colleague once asked Kesi.

To which Desi replied, “We’re both her daughter.”

Her friend’s mom asked, “He’s not your dad, right?”

Desi said that it doesn’t bother her. I halfway believe her. She is her father’s child; they both let things roll off their backs. But I do not. Sometimes my ego still drives the bus, and this is one topic that gets me going. If anyone ever asks, I have ready answers.

Have you ever heard of recessive genes?

You do know African Americans come in all shades, right? Sometimes those colors are reflected in the same family.

Your question doesn’t even make sense. You do realize this is my youngest daughter, right?

Q2: How do you get your hair like that?

This happens all the time. The most recent being a month or so ago. It’s usually a black woman, who follows up with, “I can’t get my hair to do that.” But this time a black, male cashier asked.

“How do you get your hair like that?”

“It grows like this.”

(snickers) “That’s what they all say!”

“Yes, but this time, it’s true.”

I went on to explain that I use products to hold my curl pattern, but when I wash my hair, it looks like this. Curly. When I wake up in the morning, it looks like this. Spiraled.

I’m not sure why people don’t always believe me. Is it because so many women wear weaves? Did you know they sell natural looking weaves and wigs? I had no idea. I digress. Here’s my point. If you have the wherewithal to ask someone how they get their hair to look like it does, then be accepting of the answer you’re given. Implying that a woman is lying is just offensive.

Q3: Are you mixed?

Listen.

I identify as black. I was adopted and raised by a black family. Culturally, I’m black. It is common knowledge that in America one drop of blood means you’re black, still.

So, I usually answer, “Yes. But I’m black.”

That’s my reply because it’s too long to offer the following transparency.

My biological grandparents are both half Cherokee. I know what you’re thinking. We all are. But, according to my grandfather, his and his wife’s mother were full-blood Native American. That part is evident in my cheekbones.

As far as my parents, I suppose it hurts too much to say, “I don’t know,” because I don’t.

When I met my biological aunt, she told me that my mother pointed out my father. He was indeed a “lanky, white man.” However, I haven’t gotten around to finding him and proving it. Until I do, I’d prefer that people just don’t ask.

Book Review: The Unhappy Wife ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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I’ve been fortunate enough to have four book bloggers read and review The Unhappy Wife. This one comes from LeTara, who lives in the States. Not only did she give it four stars, but she’s the reason I realized the book could also be purchased at Barnes & Noble online.

LeTara Writes Book Reviews

Wives, girlfriends, significant others: Do you feel like you’re being heard? I mean really heard? Felt? Loved? Maybe you do. If so, then The Unhappy Wife by K.E. Garland is a good read for you because you can get a glimpse of what marriage is like for women who are not satisfied and you can glean information or just be entertained. If you’re not satisfied, then this is good read for you because there’s sure to be something that you can relate to in this book.

The Unhappy Wife doesn’t preach or lecture. It doesn’t attempt to vilify anyone. There’s no man-bashing or single woman-bashing or any other bashing. It is simply a collection of twelve short stories/anecdotes shared by twelve very different women. The book is divided into three parts: The Voiceless Wife, The Detached Wife, and The Committed Wife.

Considering I am not married and never have been…

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Inspiring Image(s) #59 Kesha Exhibit

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Kesha is an exhibit currently showing at the (downtown) Jacksonville Public Library.

Check these out:


As you can see, the exhibit displays intersections of gender and race, hence the title, Kesha.

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However, some works are clear portrayals of the impact of systematic African American oppression.

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Shout out to Shawana Brooks for an amazing concept.

This is a very small sample of what the exhibit offers.

If you’re nearby, then plan a visit.  It runs until late April.

 

Gina from The Unhappy Wife book

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unhappy-wifeGina was the third wife that I’d interviewed. By the time I began putting the book together, I knew that she fit into the Voiceless Wife category. At first glance, her story may seem similar to Jasmyne’s. She knew she shouldn’t have married Bryan, but wed anyway and sought counseling through marriage ministry. However, her story is a tad bit different. Whereas Jasmyne seemed to heed advice from people she trusted, Gina never told anyone how she felt. Her mother, father, and best friend never suspected that she knew Bryan wasn’t the man for her.

Concept: Gina began our interview by saying, “I knew I shouldn’t have married Bryan as soon as he proposed,” so I wrote the story around that idea. I wanted to show the reader how we can have a suspicion about a person, and even if they do something blatant, we ignore those feelings and proceed with our own illusion.

With this narrative, I wanted to also illustrate how we keep relationship secrets due to something I’ve talked about on this blog before: shame. Gina didn’t want anyone to know that she’d given up her dog, her weekly visits with her mother, or her relationship with her best friend, simply to please Bryan.

I have to add that this wife’s story is one of my “favorites” because of the bloody kitten scene. I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t read the book, but the imagery of the animal gasping for its breath stayed with me for quite a while. This part of her story is true.

Similar to Jasmyne’s chapter, I created the part about her stomach twisting and turning in knots. The reason I continue to use this analogy is because intuition is oftentimes described as a gut feeling. If you’re familiar with chakras, then you know the yellow one is associated with your stomach and trusting what you feel. This is a message I felt important to continue.

Commentary: What stood out to me is the progression of abuse. Bryan slowly pulled her away from her loved ones, including her dog. He never physically hurt her, but rather imposed psychological abuse. He was jealous of everyone she interacted with, but it wasn’t obvious to her until after the experience. This is common. When you’re in a situation with a person who’s mentally abusive, then it might not be as apparent, especially if you’re ignoring instincts.

The other part of Gina’s story that intrigued me was the shame she carried. The shame grew at the same rate as her instincts about the relationship. This fit into another reason I felt compelled to write this book. There are many women who keep the details of their marriages secret because they believe they’re the only ones going through horrible situations. I’m not suggesting that we tell everyone, everything about our unions. I’m just saying perhaps it’s time to be a little more authentic in how we present ourselves to our friends and family. And if those people can’t be trusted, seek counsel that is aligned with who you are and what you believe. There are ways to discontinue the abuse and the loneliness that accompanies maintaining this type of secret.

unhappy-wifeLet me know what you thought about Gina and Bryan, what I’ve said here, or anything else that you felt was important. Next month, we’ll delve into many readers’ favorite character, Mrs. Little.

The Unhappy Wife is on sale here.

Monday Notes: 10 Songs that Depict Black American Culture

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I wanted to write this two years ago when I first started blogging.

Initially, the idea was to post in honor of Black History Month. February came and went. Twice. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about how “black” I wanted to be on my blog. Two years ago, I was tired of being the “black hire,” the “black prof,” or the “black colleague,” and my blog felt like a place where I could just be, no matter my racial identity.

Somewhere between Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland, I decided that if I was going to have a platform, then my black experience would be an integral topic every now and then. February 2017 would be the time when I would finally post specific songs that I listen to because they represent voices of understanding.

There were only two challenges. The first is I wanted to share a few lines from each song, but then that made everything too long. The second is I couldn’t think of a good title. The songs don’t really inspire me as much as they illustrate through great lyrics what some of us have observed or experienced being so-called Black Americans.

So without further ado, here are the ten songs I’ve chosen, with the artist, the title and a few lines. Of course, if you want the full effect, you’ll have to click the links.

Janelle Monáe Tightrope
“When you get elevated,
 They love it or they hate it
 You dance up on them haters
 Keep getting funky on the scene”

Kanye West Spaceship
“I’ve been workin’ this graveshift and I ain’t made shit
I wish I could buy me a spaceship and fly past the sky”

Solange’s F.U.B.U.
“When you know you gotta pay the cost
Play the game just to play the boss
So you thinking, what you gained you lost
But you know your shit is taking off, oh
When you’re driving in your tinted car
And you’re criminal just who you are
But you know you’re gonna make it far, oh"
Talib Kweli Get By
“We sell crack to our own out the back of our homes
We smell the musk of the dusk in the crack of the dawn
We go through episodes too, like Attack of the Clones
Work ‘til we break our back and you hear the crack of the bone”
Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) Umi Says
“My Umi said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see
My Abi said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see”
Angie Stone Brotha
“You got your wall street brotha
 Your blue collar brotha
 Your down-for-whatever-chillin'-on-the-corner brotha
 Your talented brotha, and to everyone of ya'll behind bars”
Erykah Badu Other Side of the Game
“See me and baby got this situation
 See brother got this comlex ocupation
 And it ain't that he don't have education
 Cause I was right there at his graduation
 Now I ain't sayin that this life don't work
 But it's me and baby that he hurts
 Because I tell him right he thinks I'm wrong
 But I love him strong”
Janelle Monáe (featuring Erykah Badu) Q.U.E.E.N.
“Hey sister am I good enough for your heaven?
Say will your God accept me in my black and white?
Will he approve the way I’m made?
Or should I reprogram, deprogram and get down?”
Common Misunderstood
“She thought back to when she was at Howard and
Dreams of doing scenes with Terrence Howard and
Broadway plays and dancin with Alv and them
The ones that make it ain’t always the talented”
Kendrick Lamar Mortal Man
“Do you believe in me? Are you deceiving me?
Could I let you down easily, is your heart where it need to be?
Is your smile on permanent? Is your vow on lifetime?
Would you know what the sermon is if I died in this next line?”

That’s my list. What or who would you add?

The Unhappy Wife

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I love surprises! Finding out that normabob had not only read The Unhappy Wife, but also written an Amazon review and a written these kind words on her blog sent me over the moon! Thanks again my dear! I appreciate it. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, then check out her blog.

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Image Credited to Dr. Garland

I bought the book on the weekend and I couldn’t put it down until after I had read the last page.   I was reluctant at first because I thought here was a book that only catered to married women, but I have to admit I was wrong.    Whether you are married, engaged or single you will find bits and pieces of yourself intervowen in every tale.

Congratulations Dr. Garland you have imbued wisdom into our lives by sharing the stories of these women with us through your book.  See my review on Amazon.

© Norma Bobb-Semple 2017

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