Friday, October 27, 2017

I Wasted My 20s


The title speaks for itself. I wasted my 20s, on a lot of unnecessary things. That's just my reality when I sit back and reflect on my life and where I am now. No one can help but reflect on what was and what's going on now, the inevitable eventually happens.

You must be wondering how I wasted my 20s so I'll tell you. I went to college and got a degree in mass media communications (television production), and I was fortunate enough to work at some sports media companies. I honestly wanted to be a sports broadcaster but after a few years of chasing that dream, I let go. If you watch YouTube videos of me talking about the NBA, you would understand how much I wanted it.

Then I ventured into refereeing basketball (after 7 years I hung up the whistle) which drained my body and it took a toll on my knees and my back. Plus I lost the love to do it and all of the politics and bullshit that came with it. In between that I worked in retail for 2 big companies that are basically well-known world brands.

I know you're asking, how did I waste my time? Basically, I went down paths in Corporate America trying to, "make it" and I knew in my mind and heart that Corporate America was not for me. Once I master something and there's no longer a challenge, boredom kicks in. 

With my writing, there's always the challenge to get better, write something thought-provoking, even controversial things that'll ruffle a few feathers and make people uncomfortable. For me to have been writing since I was 13 and it took me 20 years to realize that my words can impact and resonate others is a shame.

I also wasted my 20s trying to find love and do what society expects of us, be in a relationship, get married, have kids, etc. So here I am, approaching my mid-30s with a totally different mindset. No marriage, no kids on my mind, just writing and wanting to be where all of the creators are...Los Angeles. 

Do I regret not focusing on my writing, yes and no. Yes because I could've had way more content but I hadn't learned about the realities of the world and how it works until my 30s. In my 20s it was you either got a publishing deal or your book wasn't getting published, now I have the freedom to control every aspect of the process.

I wish I did mentally focus on myself more in my 20s. I was too busy trying to make everyone else happy that I lost myself and my own happiness. So here I am, making up for lost time and publishing books every few months because I don't want to keep my talents and gifts from others.

I post a lot of free content which is my gift back to the world to say thank you for reading my words and appreciating me and my talent. I've owned up to the fact that I wasted my 20s, but I know that in my mind I would not have been able to write the books that I am writing now. 

So in a way, it's good and bad that I wasted my 20s. It's good because eventually I would myself, who I am, what I'm becoming and where my future is going. It's bad because I'm about 10 years behind in my writing which is why I'm making up for lost time now. 

Please sign up to follow my blog on the right side of the website and you can read excerpts from all of my books on Bublish and you can follow me there and get notification when I post something weekly. 

Thanks for reading, be good, accomplish your goals.

Jamell Crouthers
Aquarianmind

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Building Your Author Brand

It's so crucial and important to grow your author brand and it is something I am still learning and working on daily. I'm still a beginner as an author even though I've published 6 books in such a short amount of time. I am going to share with you websites that I use and also places you can get book reviews at decent prices so you're not spending a ton of money.

As a beginning author, trying to establish your audience all while making sure you're paying all of your necessary bills, I've learned to budget myself. Without further a do, here's the websites I use:

Social Media:
Facebook-creating your own author page to share what you're writing and have been working on is important. You can still share content on your personal page but you want to grow your audience and that's the key.
Instagram-you can use your personal page but I have a page for my poetry where I write about things going on in my life or things on my mind. It's different from what I write about in my books so it's a different perspective of my writing.
Twitter-a lot of authors have this platform as you can follow other authors and see what they write about. It's good to be on here because a lot of people will repost content you post about your writing and your books.
YouTube-you can post videos on what you're working on, any new content you've been working on and grow your audience that way, it's a win win!
Podbean-if you're looking to do podcasts, this is a free website and if you want added features, there are monthly plans you can pay for. I will be starting a podcast on this website in January 2018, I will definitely keep you guys on tabs with what's going on as I will be discussing societal issues and may have some guests on there!

Book Promotion:
Fiverr-this website allows you to find people who can promote your book for you. You can also be featured on other people's websites and blogs and find people who do radio shows. Anything helps to grow your author brand, right?

Book Reviews:
Literary Titan-a good place to get a book review, it does take a few weeks but they also help promote your book after they give you a review.
Bookplex-there are different options to choose from in how many book reviews you want and whether you want a certified book review to be posted on Amazon. Sometimes they run promotions where book reviews are at a lower price so keep a lookout for that.
Reader's Favorite-they accept every genre from any author, they only post 4 and 5 star reviews so if they feel your book is under 4 stars, they will e-mail you. Book promotion is included in your book review depending on what option you choose. There are different price points and you also get an opportunity to be put into a contest for authors which is awesome. I will be using this website soon and will let you know how things go.
Dragon Realm Press-from editing and proofreading to book reviews and marketing, this website offers a variety of different things. Unfortunately, you can choose options and pay upfront on the website, you have to e-mail them and it does take time for responses so choose wisely.

Author Profile:
Bublish-a website where you can post excerpts from your books and give insight into how you wrote your book(s). It's only $10 a month and they have webinars every few weeks to help you in growing your audience and your brand as an author.

Please take the time to checkout my Bublish page where you can get free content and some excerpts from my books. You can follow me on there and get notified when I post something new on there weekly. My Bublish page is my gift to everyone who reads my blogs daily and you can follow me on my social media pages.

My website/blog, you can now add your e-mail and subscribe to my blog. On the top right hand side of this blog, you can add your e-mail, then confirm it and get notified when I post new blogs on here.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Being an Entrepreneur Is Hard...Very Hard

One of my favorite people to follow, read on and watch his videos is Gary Vaynerchuk. You either like him or you don't, there's nothing in between. He's blunt, he's honest and he curses every few sentences to get his point across but that's just who he is. I watch some of his YouTube videos over and over again just to remind myself of the process I'm going through.

While he's in the business of sports, media and marketing, along with being an author himself, we share one big thing in common...we're both entrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur is hard...very hard, and for many reasons. There's this false sense of reality that it's yachts, parties, pretty girls, champagne and living the life. The reality is, it's nowhere near that. It's work...a lot of work...and every single day.

Most people want to be entrepreneurs, run their own businesses and do whatever they want as far as work hours. You don't get breaks, there's always something that has to be done and within a short time frame. Given the fact that I'm an author, writer, blogger and screenwriter, people assume that I can just write whenever I want, and post content whenever I want. While that holds true, there's also the laziness factor that kicks in when you don't write consistently.

Even though I do write at my own pace and I don't force the issue (because most of my books are already written in my head), I do make sure that I'm consistently writing and challenging myself to the fullest potential that I can be. It's not because I have to, but because I want to. Every. Single. Day. There aren't many breaks for me.

I work a full-time job, plus write short poems, do YouTube videos, post content on social media, write my books, edit and proofread them, record my own audiobooks (which is coming soon) and I put a timeframe on when I want to complete things. It forces me to be diligent, hone my craft and keep my mind stimulated daily.

So I'm meticulously planning things on a regular basis. I'm constantly writing, "to do" lists weekly so I stay consistent in what I'm doing and the reason why I'm doing it. Some weeks I have to invest in things, some weeks I don't. I have to budget things, I have to plan release dates for books, sometimes I have to rearrange the order in how I want to release my books. I have to plan marketing strategies, get book reviews, do book exchanges sometimes and constantly stay afloat with what's going on in the social media space.

It's very time consuming and it drains me mentally, physically and emotionally. There are days I don't want to go to work and I want to just sit home and do things at my own pace. But, that's not how life works (at least for now). Eventually, I will get to a place where I'm just focusing on writing for hours every single day instead of a few days a week.

While I love the grind of this, it's hard and it's challenging. Everyday, I put in bare minimum of an hour into something and some days, I'm going at this process for 5-6 hours a day. No I don't work like Gary Vaynerchuk for 18 hours a day, that would burn me out. He's dedicated to his game and his process and I am dedicated to mine too.

Just know that if you ever decide that you want to be an entrepreneur and control your own destiny, it's a lot of work and every single thing will fall on you. You can enjoy the successes but there will be failures, bad investments and time wasted on projects you didn't need to do.

Along the way, it's all a learning process and you have to be ready for the grind. You have to be ready to be tired, drained, pissed off, angry, mad, happy, sad, depressed, stressed, gleeful and every other emotion and feeling that you can think of. Just embrace the journey, continually make goals and don't celebrate too much when you accomplish things. Also, don't share everything with the world, not everyone wants to see you doing better than them.

Be good, accomplish your goals and remember entrepreneurship is hard...very hard.

Jamell Crouthers
Aquarianmind

Friday, October 6, 2017

Writing A Book From Beginning To Publishing

When I meet people and we discuss the passions we have and what we do, when I tell people I'm a writer and author, the astonished faces that I see are amazing. It's like this surreal feeling that someone is actually speaking to a published author. Then comes the questions of what I write about, how I do it and if I went through a publishing company. Then I tell them I do it all on my own (90% of it, I'm not going to lie) and that I'm a self-published author.

To make things easier on people and just in case anyone comes across my blog and sees this blog post, I'm going to break down the whole process for me from beginning to publishing. I will address marketing and book reviews in another blog.

Brainstorming: This is the most important process to any book that you will write. I have a blue book that I use to write every single idea or concept for a book, my to-do lists along with each chapter for my books. I basically write anything and everything that comes to my mind. Even if it doesn't sound right, right away, eventually there will be a good 2-3 chapters that may not fit into what you're trying to write and the message you're trying to give to the readers.

Every book I've written goes through the brainstorming sessions which can take 1-3 days at a time. A lot of times, it can go longer but once I write down chapters, I will write what will be discussed in that chapter and with characters, there has to be story line development and whether it's going to sound good, it's well written and has substance. Most of this comes natural to me because of the fact that I've been writing for over 20 years and I've been honing my craft for so long. Along with that, I'm always writing shorter poems, screenplays and working on a plethora of other projects.

Book Title: This is harder than what you think. You don't want to have the same book title as others because it'll get lost in the shuffle on book websites. You also want to have a book title that grabs someone's attention and gets them intrigued (I still have issues with this after writing 6 books). You don't want anything boring and it sounds generic either. You want it to appeal to someone who comes across your book right away so don't lose sight of that.

Writing the Book: For some people, this is the hardest part for numerous reasons. People's schedules, lives, kids, family, distractions and plenty of other things. If you have a goal to finish a book by a certain time, stick to it. I talk to people who ask me about the process of publishing a book, I ask them, have you written the book and I get the answer, "not yet." You can't skip the important steps before even getting to the publishing process.

Write consistently, no matter what. It doesn't take me long to write books because I buckle down and get to work. That means I don't go out much, I don't hangout with friends, I don't let many things distract me and I know what my goals are. I hold myself accountable for my own lackadaisical ways and goofing around. If you need someone to keep you on track and pushing you, then do that. Otherwise, you won't finish your book and you'll concoct excuses as to why you can't finish your book or haven't finished it.

Editing/Proofreading: Honestly, I do this myself, it's my book, my content, why wouldn't I do it myself. I do miss things here and there. I haven't read a perfect book in my life. Certain sentences can be worded differently to sound right, sometimes a word gets misspelled, that's just part of it. If your book is formatted correctly and can be read efficiently, then you're good to go.

If you want to pay someone to read over your book, go for it. If anything, get a family member or friend who loves to read to go over your book with you. Basically, find ways to keep your costs down when it comes to things like this, it'll benefit you in the long run if you're a new author.

Formatting: This is the most crucial part of your book, no if's and's or but's about it. Especially for paperbacks which will be your bread and butter. eBooks is important too because you don't want your book to look sloppy and unreadable. While there are plenty of places and websites you can use, I go with Fiverr to get someone to format my books.

I have someone who is amazing at it, he copyrights it all for me, and formats it to where you can see the title of the book on the top and my name on there. Using people who have high ratings, great reviews, you can spend $50-100 dollars instead of hundreds of dollars.

Depending on how long your book is, word count and the sizing you want will determine your price. Oh and don't forget to tip them when you get your masterpiece back!

Book Cover: To answer the question before it's even asked, no you don't have to spend $500 dollars for an extravagant book cover. Once again I use Fiverr and I've found someone who does great work for me. They made my book covers for Code Blue: An Oath to the Badge and Gun and America Under Mind Control.

For my other books, I made them myself by using canva.com. It's a website where you can make your own book covers for eBook and paperbacks. It's a great website, but sometimes the options are limited but those are the websites I've used to create book covers.

Synopsis: You want to talk about your book and what it's about but not too much. It makes sense but then it doesn't. If you give too much information about the book, then there's no incentive to buy it. If you give too little, then it's not enticing enough to get someone to buy your book. So there has to be a common ground in what will work and what won't. The good part is you can change it a few times before it officially hits bookstores and is on sale.

Stress the important aspects of the plot and story line and discuss your main character briefly. You have to draw readers into what you're writing about and why. A good 6-8 lines about your book should be sufficient enough to get readers drawn in. If you need help with it, there's nothing wrong with that, always remember that.

Book Publishing: The easiest way to get your books to a bunch of bookstores is to use a website that will give you that opportunity. I use Draft2digital because it allows you to send your books to all of the major book retailers except Amazon. I created an Amazon account separately and used Createspace (owned by Amazon) to create my paperbacks.

Draft2Digital has an easy menu and layout and they guide you step by step on how to get your books out to all readers. You get to choose what bookstores you want to publish them on and it saves you the time from having to create accounts for every bookstore such as Barnes and Noble, Apple, Scribd and many others.

Createspace can be a little meticulous with creating your paperback but there are representatives that are available 24 hours a day to help you with the process of creating your paperback. You're also allowed to order 5 proofs so you can see them before publishing them to Amazon.

Pricing: As a first time author, it's totally up to you with pricing but if you make it too high for eBooks and/or paperbacks, you won't see many sales. If you're an unknown and you want people to take a chance on you, have an audience before your book is published, have a few reviews and have a low price point for the time being.

Sometimes you can drop your price to 0.99 cents and get some sales and if you get reviews for those, that boosts your book on Amazon. Promotions are key and important but that'll be discussed in the next blog.

That's the process with my books and how I do everything. Your journey doesn't have to be the same as mine but there is some good information I provided.

Be good and accomplish your goals.

Jamell Crouthers
Aquarianmind