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Would you write if it meant you risked getting your fingers chopped off?

Mammy Prater, 115-year old ex-slave. Image originally from Library of Congress is no longer available from Amazon

Mammy Prater, 115-year old ex-slave. Image originally from Library of Congress is no longer available from Amazon

Imagine you want to write a letter to your husband.

There is no Facebook, Twitter, email. As a matter of fact, there is no internet.

It’s 1830, you are an African American slave and every aspect of your life is controlled by your master.

Even if you happen to know which plantation your husband has been taken to, you have several problems.

1. Not only is it against the law for slaves to read or write,
but it’s against the law for anyone to be caught teaching you to read or write.

This 1830 North Carolina statute was typical.

AN ACT TO PREVENT ALL PERSONS FROM TEACHING SLAVES TO READ OR WRITE, THE USE OF FIGURES EXCEPTED
Whereas the teaching of slaves to read and write, has a tendency to excite dis-satisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion, to the manifest injury of the citizens of this State:

Therefore,
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same
, That any free person, who shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any slave within the State to read or write, the use of figures excepted, or shall give or sell to such slave or slaves any books or pamphlets, shall be liable to indictment in any court of record in this State having jurisdiction thereof, and upon conviction, shall, at the discretion of the court, if a white man or woman, be fined not less than one hundred dollars, nor more than two hundred dollars, or imprisoned; and if a free person of color, shall be fined, imprisoned, or whipped, at the discretion of the court, not exceeding thirty nine lashes, nor less than twenty lashes.

II. Be it further enacted, That if any slave shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any other slave to read or write, the use of figures excepted, he or she may be carried before any justice of the peace, and on conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to receive thirty nine lashes on his or her bare back.

III. Be it further enacted, That the judges of the Superior Courts and the justices of the County Courts shall give this act in charge to the grand juries of their respective counties.

Source: “Act Passed by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina at the Session of 1830—1831” (Raleigh: 1831).

Retrieved from http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/slaveprohibit.html

 

2. Some slaveowners took the punishment a bit further and threatened to chop off the fingers of any slave caught writing.

See The Secret Writing of American Slaves

 

3. To learn to read you had to engage in covert activities.

Frederick Douglass sneaked pieces of bread to poor white children who would in exchange teach him to read.

 

4. Writing supplies were hard to come by.

One slave wrote letters to his mother on scraps of wallpaper he saved when he got a job hanging wallpaper. His mother had taught him to read before she was sold to another slaveowner.

 

5. If you succeeded in learning to read, find paper, get a writing tool, and write a letter, how did you get it safely delivered?

Enough of this.

It’s the  21st century and if you live in a democratic country, you don’t have any of these worries.

Your biggest roadblock is nothing so scary.

You have tremendous advantages

  • You know how to read.
  • You have access to writing tools.
  • You are free to openly write letters and more, even a book.
  • You have classes, coaches and mentors eager to help you write, even if your dream is as ambitious as writing a book.
  • You probably can write on any topic without fear of repercussions, especially without fear of losing any fingers.
  • You can get your book published affordably and distributed worldwide.
  • People will pay you for your book.

So, tell me in the Comments, what’s holding you back from writing your book?

If you are fresh out of excuses for writing your book, let me help you get started at Rockin’ My Book , an on-demand eCourse.

9 Steps to Writing and Publishing a Book

Aspiring authors have many fears, uncertainties, false notions, and misconceptions. Who can blame them?  Until recent years, the inner workings of the publishing industry were mysterious to us commoners. Whenever I speak at seminars or work with coaching clients, I am pressed with questions like

  • How do I get a book published?
  • Do you think I can write a book?
  • Do I need an agent?
  • Are there any secrets to getting published?

The beginning writer is haunted and paralyzed by fears and uncertainties.

Although successful writers are portrayed as loners clicking away on a keyboard or scrawling on a yellow pad, my best advice for today’s first time author is to build relationships. You will benefit from exchanging ideas and strategies with other writers online and offline. You will save time, money, and disappointments when you seek a mentor, attend workshops, invest in conferences, and engage the help of an accountability partner or  coach. You will learn how to organize your time, choose the best tools for your purpose, and discover the many publishing options available to you.

Nothing will spare you from rejections and the inevitable rewriting

Getting to know fellow authors will help you handle all parts of the publishing process.

The nine steps to writing and publishing a book above are simply stated, but cover the basics most authors follow, not necessarily in this order.  There is so much to learn about each step that books have been written about each of them.

There are no secrets, no need to be an outstanding writer, or have special DNA to publish. Authors read and write a lot, and if they want to be successful, build relationships.

If you’re ready to keep the promise you made to yourself about writing a book one day, today is a perfect day to start. My eCourse, Rockin’ My Book has helped give other authors the push they needed. Let it do the same for you.

Are there any steps I didn’t cover that you think are essential? Tell me in the Comments.

Download your free ebook, It’s Time to Write Your Book at http://coloryourlifepublished.com

 

How to Rock Your Book Copy

 

How to Conquer Your Fear of Screwing Up the Book You Want to Write, Part I

conquerfear copy

When you start to write your book, you will feel some fear. Guaranteed.

We all do. It goes with the writing process.

You worry about adding to the trite prose that already clutters the market, and becoming the victim of searing criticism in the process.

All this worry paralyzes you, rendering you too scared to get started or get past the inevitable writer’s block.

You may even engage in the fruitless task of editing as you write. This is like running on a treadmill. You’re burning energy but not really going anywhere.

We will cover some of the ways to conquer this fear in this series.  (See Part 2 here.)

Before we start. . .

Consider writing a nonfiction book

  • They are easier to write.
  • They are easier to sell.
  • Customers are already looking for the solutions in your nonfiction book.
  • You are already an expert in something that could become a nonfiction book (more on that later.)

Don’t let me discourage you from writing your novel if that’s your passion and goal right now. It’s just that fiction takes most authors longer to create and without established credibility, harder to sell.

Good news: you don’t have to choose. You can write both nonfiction and fiction, as more and more authors are doing.

Now that I’ve pushed you to write nonfiction, let’s talk about the first way to conquer that gripping fear that you’ll screw up your book.

Forget about being original

It’s unlikely that you can write on a topic no one has covered in some way, especially in nonfiction. Even if you did, you have no guarantee that anyone would want to read it.

Instead think about how you can write a new twist on a topic that you and other people are interested in.

The most popular nonfiction topics are

  • dieting/weight loss
  • relationships
  • self-help/personal growth/happiness
  • money/finances
  • dating/sex
  • healthy cooking
  • spiritual/inspiration
  • career/leadership
  • parenting

Find a way to tell us something new or in a different way on one of these topics, and you’ll have the potential to write a bestseller.

Let me give you an example.

A quick search on Amazon indicates that as of the day I’m writing this post the category of dieting/weight loss has 11,487 books, 2,135 Kindle books and over 160 products that are tagged “dieting.”

In spite of this mountain of dieting advice/tips/products, someone is creating another book on dieting right now.  If this upcoming author (maybe you) can tell us a healthy way we can eat what we want, skip exercise and keep our ideal weight, her book will be bestseller overnight.

Put a new twist on favorite topics

When you see new books emerge that give solutions in a new way, you may think, “I could have done that!” You’re right. You could have. You just have to turn your thinking cap at a different angle like these authors did.

  • True stories of inspiration, love and courage are not new. But when Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen compiled stories like these, they enjoyed impressive sales of Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Advice about parenting and pregnancy has been around for many decades. When my kids were born, Dr. Spock was the go-to parenting expert who turned childrearing advice on its head.When the mother-daughters team of Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi Murkoff and Sandee Hathaway wrote What to Expect When You’re Expecting, their book gave us a fascinating new guide to pregnancy and created a phenomenal self-publishing success story (since the first one of what became a serious was self-published.)
  • From the beginning of history people have sought answers from God. When a former Oregon radio talk show host Neale Walsch wrote the responses he was hearing, Conversations with God won him a 7-figure advance from Putnam-Berkley.

    Repurpose your own content

    You must not plagiarize anyone, even yourself. But there’s nothing wrong with breathing new life into your already-produced content, especially your blog.

    Before it was a trend, for example, I gathered the posts from my blog, Color Your Life Happy, and wove them together with results of happiness research, ancient wisdom and added activities and cartoons. The result was my book, Color Your Life Happy: Create Success, Abundance and Inner Joy You Deserve available in print and Kindle versions.

    This is a popular approach, and one I recommend in an e-course I created to help you get over your fear of screwing up your book so you can get started.

If you’re ready to conquer your fear of writing your book, I’m ready to hold your hand in my 4-week e-course, Rockin’ My Book. It’s an on-demand course, meaning you start when you register. Because it’s an e-course you complete it at your convenience. What makes it stand out from many e-courses is that you will get feedback from me when complete the suggested tasks.

I’d love to have you learn about Rockin’ My Book here and then tell me what you’ve done to conquer your fear of writing your book (or even blog posts, articles, etc.) in the comments.

 

The New Print on Demand: Want a Book with that Coffee?

bookwithcoffee copyPrint on demand ushered in an era of speed and changed our expectations forever. You can upload a manuscript and book cover to a publisher’s or printer’s website and within days get the print copy.

The Espresso Book Machine has stepped it up to another level. Now you can get a full book printed while you wait, before you finish your latte. It’s the only digital-to-print-to-retail process available so far.

Major publishers and printers are already using this machine to service their clients, but now you can print your own self-published book and take out another middleman.

This amazing machine is available in a few university bookstores, libraries and coffee shops in the USA and other countries.

Watch the video to see it at work. Then check to find the location near you so you can dash over with your manuscript to see the Espresso Book Machine firsthand.

Below the video, you’ll see the buzz this machine is creating on Twitter.

Leave your comments telling me what you think the Espresso Book Machine means for the future of publishing.



[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/ThomasNelson/status/299548492412645376″] [blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/thecreativepenn/status/300945845455577088″] [blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/EdieMelson/status/299216805623365633″] [blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/jonathansalem/status/251343995437985792″]

Before you can print your book, you must write it, of course. If you need a companion to get you started on your publishing journey, discover how I can help you here.

It Takes a Village to Self-Publish a Book to Avoid Losing Your Shirt or Your Mind

If you want to self-publish a book without losing your shirt or your mind, you need help.

Self-publishing is not a solo act.

Yes, you may write your rough draft alone in your room or closet for months with only quick breaks to refuel your stomach and sleep.

But to publish a book that stands any chance of being read, much less being profitable, you need to gather others who can help you with the less-glamorous, but essential parts of getting your book to market.

It takes a village to publish a book to avoid losing your shirt or your mind. ←Click to tweet

Who must be in your village and what is the role of each?

1. You

You must be an eager participant not just in the writing, but in the marketing of your book.

There is no “set-it-and-forget-it” in book marketing.  ←Click to tweet

No publicist, agent or company will care about your book more than you do.  Think of yourself as the contractor and the other folks in your village as subcontractors. You will select them and oversee the work they do for you.

2. Publishing coach or accountability partner

A coach or accountability partner plays an important role. You know that you could get your book written without any prodding, but if you’re like most humans you accomplish more when you have someone nudging you along.

You could build muscles and lose weight on your own too. Chances are, however, that you won’t stick to any fitness plan if you don’t have someone tracking and encouraging you on.

A publishing coach serves an even more important function when you are self-publishing.  She will help you evaluate your options in selecting the other members of your village so you aren’t scammed into overpaying for services or being lured into worthless package deals from  unscrupulous companies.

3. Editor

Did you let out a loud sigh of relief when you finished your rough draft? Perhaps you thought the hard part was over. Depending on who to you talk to, that may be true.

But I pity the fool who publishes a book without having a professional editor go through it with a fine-tooth comb.

Without a skilled editor, your book will be screaming “amateur” and will become the victim of ruthless reviews on Amazon and other online retailers. Today’s readers are not very patient with books that are riddled with errors or sound like 5th grade compositions.

Once the editor returns your manuscript you still have work to do, refining and polishing.

James Michener was not kidding when he said,
“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”

4. Proofreader

While the editor was digging into content, ensuring flow, structure and consistency of style, the proofreader is looking for mistakes in spelling and grammar that can mar, alter or skew your meaning.

Proofreaders know that they can’t count on spell checkers, so they use many other means.

5. Book cover designer

Since the cover is the first thing prospective buyers see, it plays an important role. The front cover captures attention, and if it garners enough curiosity the reader goes to the back cover where the details convince the reader to plunk down his credit card.

Even though ebooks typically show only a front cover, it is nonetheless important.

Consult your coach,  fellow authors and colleagues to help you find book cover designers who can work with you to create the cover that best represents your book.

6. Interior book/layout designer

Self-publishing a book can be easy, but self-publishing a “professional” book requires skill. Chances are you don’t have all the skills required. That’s why I urge you to gather the experts you need to have in your village.

Up until this stage you may have been working with your manuscript in Microsoft Word.  When getting it properly formatting, Microsoft Word is no longer your friend.

No matter how well polished your manuscript is, you can fall into a big pothole if it is not laid out properly.  While some of the Print on Demand companies may give you instructions on doing this yourself, it’s still possible to make amateur mistakes that will diminish all the work you’ve done up to this point

 7. Printer, Fulfillment and Distribution

Once your book has received the blessings of the first six folks in your village, you’re ready to share it with the world.

Your coach or anyone of the other experts can be helpful in selecting the company that will print your book. Print on demand companies often have an option for getting your book into the hands of buyers. While you may enjoy selling your book at book signings and book release parties, chances are you don’t want to tackle the task of shipping every copy purchased online from popular retailers.

8. Marketing department

Most self-published authors have little experience with marketing.

 

A word of caution:

Beware of companies selling packages that include all of these services in one. They are too often motivated more by profits than by helping you get a professional book.

For newcomers to publishing, gathering your village will seem like a daunting task. You can count on your coach and groups of self-publishers and independent publishers to steer you toward the ethical and affordable experts. Local, national, and online groups are dedicated to helping you succeed with your book writing, publishing and marketing goals. A few of them are

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If you’re ready to gather your village or learn more about starting your book, I’ll be happy to be your traveling companion. Here are your coaching options.