I recently published my new book Get Your Life! The Transforming Power of Turning Fate Into Fortune. Since the announcement, I’ve gotten a lot of questions regarding printing and distribution.
You’ve got your book and now you’ve got to figure out what to do with it. The good news is this: Self-publishing has never been this easy. It’s so easy I don’t understand why more people aren’t doing it.
There are two things I’m going to cover in this post:
For printing and distribution, I looked at three companies. Amazon’s Create Space, LuLu.com and Ingram Spark/Lightning Source.
There are several advantages and disadvantages that you can find in hundreds of posts.
To make it short, I went with Ingram Spark. The reason I went with Ingram Spark is because it felt like the best solution for my needs. I wanted printing, traditional distribution to bookstores and online distribution to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and wherever else books are sold online.
Ingram has what I need:
- Print my books in high quality (best paper quality compared to Amazon)
- Automatically make my book available on Amazon & B&N websites
- Automatically make my book available to brick and mortar bookstores
- Respected by retail industry and is the same vendor publishers use
- Use my own ISBN
So far, I’ve had a pleasurable experience using Ingram for printing. There were a few kinks during the proof printing process, including a time where my book was cut incorrectly with words bleeding off the page. Also, I’ve noticed some copies where it looks to be that the ink is slightly faded.
If you don’t have issues using InDesign to make your own template, Ingram could work wonders for you. I am familiar with InDesign, so making sure my book was formatted to pass their proof inspection was not difficult.
I don’t know if these are cons, but here are a few things to consider:
- It costs $25 to change an error if it’s your fault (once you submit for printing)
- It’s hard to configure in InDesign if you’re not good at it
Overall, the print is beautiful and high quality. If you have a good design, it will show. People hold the book in their hands and say “This feels like a real book.” It is a real book, as Ingram is a printer and distributor for most major publishing houses.
Ingram makes your book available to bookstores everywhere and online retailers. I spoke with a bookstore in Oakland, California and they were elated that I did not print my book using Amazon’s CreateSpace. As you may know, Amazon is a direct competitor to bookstores. They stated that they do not carry authors who have Amazon CreateSpace distribution.
I don’t know if these are cons, but here are a few things to consider:
- You cannot control which online retailers sell your book (it goes to all they supply to)
- You must make your book available at a discount to retailers at the lowest of 30%
- $45 set up fee, $12 to make it available to retailers
Overall, the distribution is fantastic and easy. For the book tour, I am doing events at bookstores and in order to do that, your book needs to be available through a distributor. You call up and the bookstore can look up your book on their system to see if they can order it. Because of Ingram, your book shows up! And they can order copies for your book signing. That makes a tremendous difference. They will only carry your book if it is available through a distribution partner.
Part of my marketing strategy is live events, as I am also a speaker, so it’s advantageous to have the book available at bookstores so I can set up events.
Lastly, I’ve had a pleasurable experience using Ingram as both my printer and distributor. The good news is that there are many options. But I think Ingram is the best, most credible and safest option.
Two years ago in Harlem, I was sitting at a coffee shop staring at a blank document on my laptop. I was trying to write my first book and nothing was coming to me. Literally, I had nothing. I desparately needed to cure this writers block so I could actually write my book.
I started to search the web for ways, tactics and methods, and found little. So what I did was begin to curate my own set of inspiration. I started to collect videos, presentations, speeches, music videos and all kinds of art that have great storytelling. After all, I was trying to write a book. And what is a book without stories.
On October 13th, 2015, I published my first book Get Your Life! The Transforming Power of Turning Fate Into Fortune. While working on the book, I badly needed to find ways to nurture my storytelling ability. Now that the book is out, I want to share with you what I did and still do to become a better writer.
Daily, I follow these tactics even as I write for my weekly newsletter.
1) Start with a story. Stories make it easy to explain complex happenings. Whether you are working on a live presentation in front of an audience or you are writing to a reader, start with a story. You want to engage your audience as soon as possible. Every few weeks, I return to this beautiful Ted Talk by Andrew Stanton on telling a great story. He captures his audience by opening and closing with a story, weaving several stories in between. And it’s not overkill. It’s just right.
2) Listen to yourself. During the writing of my book, I moved to Inglewood, California, where I did a lot of work at my kitchen table. When I hit writers block again, I opened up my iPhone and recorded what I wanted to write. As Seth Godin says, no one ever has talkers block! I transcribed my conversations with myself. Most of the recordings didn’t make it into the book, but when you talk to yourself for an hour, you’ve got a lot of material to work with.
3) Watch interviews. I used to work at a restaurant in New York called The Cleveland, and we used espresso from Cafe Integral. I randomly Googled the cafe and found this video. It’s Cesar Vega, the founder, teaching viewers how to make the perfect cup of coffee in an Aeropress. The interesting thing to me was the story behind the coffee. The idea that coffee made in this delicate way somehow makes it taste better. It may not necessarily taste better than my cheap coffee maker at home, but the story of handmade is damned good. A story is a story.
4) Study celebrity bios. As a writer and content producer, I’ve developed relationships with record labels and management companies. When a new album comes out or they’d like for me to learn about their new artist, they send over press material. I devour this kind of stuff, as their PR team has usually put together the best story to sell their clients. Money is on the line so you know they spend time writing these biographies and introductions. I’d go to Warner Bros or even J. Cole’s website, who happens to be my favorite artist. I love the story in his About section.
5) Listen to your favorite album. One of the albums that inspired Get Your Life! is Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Why do I love this album so much? From the beginning, she opens up with an interesting intro and then weaves engaging content all throughout. This became critical during my writing process as we sometimes forget to continue slapping readers upside the head with a good story. While the music on her album was great, its the short interludes that connect the dots for listeners. It’s a reminder that storytelling whether on an album or in a book influences people.
Here are my other favorites: great videos, presentations and creative sparks to watch:
NPR’s Scott Simon: How to Tell a Story
Rising Icons (S3): Miguel Artist Portrait
How Do You Tell A Great Story? by John Truby
Why We Do What We Do | Tony Robbins | TED Talks
Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action
Art and Copy: Tommy Hilfiger Brand Launch
HPU: Seth Godin and Nido Qubein
Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address
Steve Jobs: Think Different Campaign Launch
I have to confess. I’m a little intimidated by the Class of 2020. You’re brighter, smarter and have more tools available to you than I did, that’s for sure. When I was a freshmen, nearly ten years ago, everyone said I was delusional and going to CAU made no sense.
People asked: What’s the point of going to a black college?
Well, first we have to ask what’s the point of going to college. The point of going to college is to get educated. The point of education is so you can make a difference in the world. And the only way to make a difference is to become a leader. Leaders are trustworthy and embody a certain kind of character that inspires those around them.
Does this sound like you?
Right now, any student who is enrolled at CAU can be this kind of leader. We’re in an age of constant change. And it’s changing by the minute. Media, technology, business, politics, music, you name it. And it’s leaving an open wide opportunity to any young person out there who wants to do something about it. I suggest it be a CAU student.
So, why CAU? What’s the #1 thing that makes CAU students so special?
CAU students are special because they are taught and surrounded by staff and faculty that genuinely care about them. They care about your success at CAU and your future success out in the world. Not only do the staff and faculty care, but they are also aware of what you are up against in this unforgiving world. That is a major and important difference that you will not find anywhere else, as not everyone knows your life.
That’s why I want to leave you with these principles. A few ways to get the most out of every dollar you will spend at CAU from tuition, to greek life, to the late night vending machine run. As you navigate the promenade journey, here’s what I want you to think about. Panther to Panther.
Dig deep. Professors will want you to defend your ideas. If you’re brave enough to say it, then be brave enough to defend it. You may be wrong, but don’t go down without a fight. In my experience, the better you can defend your idea, the more likely it is to be accepted.
When you want something bad enough, you get it. One of the hardest things to do at CAU is to pledge a fraternity or sorority. While there are many ways to gain access to them, it’s not always the easiest process. The process has become my secret weapon in the real world. Knowing how and when to be humble, how to give praise and how to lead, are lessons I’ve learned from the process that I need on a daily basis.
CAU will push you beyond what you think is your limit. Throughout your matriculation (don’t you just love that word?) you may find yourself in seemingly unbearable situations. The moment you feel tension is the moment where growth happens.
Conflict brings about innovation. At CAU, you don’t always get what you want. Whether it’s the difficulty of securing financial aid or landing the job you want, the lesson here is to not stop at no and don’t be afraid to challenge convention.
Student leaders have the chance to become extraordinary individuals. I just hope you’re one of them.
I’ll be signing books at Clark Atlanta during homecoming 2016!