Self-Publishing Through Amazon KDP

In an effort to help others with the long and grueling process- I decided to give a summary of my experience with Kindle Direct Publishing. Although Kindle is in the title of this program, it allows authors to also publish their book in paperback form.

What it comes down to is this- do you want to wait forever to get your work in the eyes of the world? Because if you do- traditional publishing is the way to go. However, if you want to stream-line the process (it’s still not fast) I highly recommend the self-publishing route. I can’t really walk you through the actual process of writing your book. But I think it is very useful to know that at some point after you’ve written it- even more tasking challenges are ahead.

The first of those challenges being formatting. Man it is a PAIN! I utilized the free templates available on KDP and still had to do a lot of manual format editing. But, I must admit, the word document templates they offered probably saved me a lot of extra time. These templates come in a large array of common book sizes- 9 X 6, 8.5 X 5.5, and so on. You must remember to get rid of all of the placeholders that the template auto-fills in for you. Or you could use one of the “blank ones” if you have a general idea of how you want the pages to look.

After hours of formatting (sorry it’s going to be time-consuming if it’s your first time) you get a chance to do all of the “cool” book stuff. Like creating your cover! They have a pretty functional cover creator on their site and I personally am happy with how mine turned out. Just MAKE SURE you use an image on your cover that isn’t copyrighted. They have some free images on the creator itself, but I strongly urge you to give sites like Unsplash a look. They offer a huge amount of high-quality and royalty-free images you can use on your cover. You aren’t even required to give credit to the photographer. Of course there are alternate choices- you can hire someone on Upwork or Fiverr to design a cover for you.

Now once you’ve uploaded your manuscript and designed or uploaded a cover, you get to set the price of your book. Make it available as both an e-book and a paperback because if you don’t you’re really just missing out on an even larger available audience to read your book. And if this is your first book that should be one of the main goals. Of course you want to make some money from it- but it’s also just really exciting to see people reading it! KDP will help you in recommending the prices, but you can set them to whatever you want within a certain range. Just make sure your paperback price will cover the printing fees they take out.

So, you’re ready to publish? No, not quite yet! Please, please, please- order a proof copy before releasing your paperback version into the world. You can go ahead and make the kindle version available because you can check how it will look online. But by ordering a proof copy of your own book you can make sure everything looks the way it should before releasing it. Once you’ve made any changes you wish- you’re finally ready! Go ahead and hit publish after going over all the settings one more time and now you just wait! KDP will review your book and settings and within 72 hours (even sooner in my experience) publish your book for sale!

Announcing My First Published Book

I am incredibly pleased to announce the release of my first published book- Success: Defined By You. In my book I offer new ideas on how people can reach their own definition of success in their own way. This is the kind of mentality I live by and to see my work published has me more thrilled than one can imagine! You can get your copy via the link below! I hope you enjoy and share with your friends.

Available in paperback and e-reader formats:

Own Your Outfits

I’m going to begin this article off with a quick anecdote pertaining to myself. Okay so it isn’t much of a story at all but rather just something that I noticed. During my senior prom I remember getting all dressed up and when I finished, tuxedo on and everything, I looked in the mirror and just thought- “Damn I look fucking good in this.” I began to think to myself “I should dress up more often, or at least put more effort into the outfits I choose.” So while I didn’t end up wearing a tuxedo everyday (would have been a better story) the event did make me realize that what I’m wearing makes a difference in my overall mood.

You Feel What You Wear

I’m sure there’s been articles on it before, and I’m sure there’ll be articles on it again. But this is my take on why you need to put more effort into deciding what clothes you wear. For one there’s some pride associated with the whole thing. Being able to incorporate your own style into growing clothing trends will make you feel like not only are you a part of something- but you did it your own way too.  Secondly- it’s honestly so much fun once you decide to make an effort. Suddenly instead of complaining about how long your girlfriend is taking in TJMAXX, you’re asking her if you can just stay a little longer. “Let me look through one more clearance rack pleeeease.”

And it’s fun because the clothes you wear are ultimately a representation of yourself. People get judged by what they wear all the time. And it’s true you can assume a lot about most people just by glancing at their outfit. While these don’t always turn out to be true- more often than not your guesses hold some ground. So dress in a way that makes other people think what you would want them to think. If you want to be seen as a guy or girl that like the outdoors and kayaking and hiking- make your outfit match that. If you want to be seen as a professional, or simply a clean-cut individual, break out some of your button up shirts. The amazing thing about clothes is that there are literally countless possible styles and sub-styles. You have an essentially infinite number of options on what you can wear- so go out there and use it to your benefit.

Mason’s Quick Tip: If you’re a guy I recommend having at a very minimum four pairs of shoes to wear, otherwise you simply cannot match with that many clothes and you won’t have as much of a variety in your outfits. For three of the pairs pick shoes that are the same colors as a lot of your clothes. So maybe a red pair, black pair, and grey pair. Then, for the last one, choose either a color you don’t wear as often or a pair of dress shoes. You likely won’t wear this pair as much but it’ll give you some added diversity in your outfits and really help you standout when you wear it.

Make It Your Own

When you start to pay more attention to what you wear, you realize there are more benefits than just being in a better mood. It gives you something to talk about- you know how many people love talking about clothes? A lot. And while a lot of them are women, you’d be surprised how many men really take their style seriously these days. I think a lot of women appreciate guys that put effort into what they wear, and it makes a guy more attractive when he gives a damn about what he’s putting on.

You might look up some ideas on popular styles and then adapt them to fit what you like. I recommend looking at an app like Pinterest and typing in a simple search like “popular men’s clothing styles.” Then go out on a little shopping trip. You don’t have to blow your savings away- discount stores that sell name-brands for way lower than the suggested retail price are life-savers. Don’t buy all your new clothes at once because you’ll come to find that what you like to wear will change overtime. And of course you’ll have to account for changing seasons and temperatures. So go out and buy maybe three articles of clothing on your first trip. Maybe a shirt, some pants, and a pair of shoes. Or even just three shirts. Make one of them something you normally wouldn’t see yourself wearing, and just give it a try. Then save a up a little more and go out and buy another couple of shirts. Or accessories, or shoes, or jackets, or whatever! It turns out to be really enjoyable and comes with a lot of unexpected advantages. Shopping with your significant other can turn into a really fun date idea!

And for those of you who were wondering:

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Women: Sacred Beings

When it seems like there is more issue over gender equality these days since before the 19th amendment was passed, I have decided to discuss how I think about women. I am, obviously, a man and in a world full of sexism and disrespect directed at women I thought this might be a breath of fresh air. My ultimate goal with this article is to express to you, the reader, that not all men objectify women.

Who Brought You Into This World

You must certainly realize that at one point you were carried inside of a woman who ultimately gave birth to you. Let’s stop right there. A woman literally gave you life, the ultimate gift which allows you to breath the air on this Earth and the ability to experience the walks of life. In my opinion there really is no gift like the one of life. And then the ongoing gift of that same woman who is your mother. The person who is your sworn protector and the one you can always rely on for whatever challenges you must endure through the early stages of life. And even once you are old enough to care for yourself, your mother remains a true guardian angel for you in all areas that you may need help getting through.

A Sacred Aspect

In many ways I lack to understand the common disrespect of women. For when I look at a woman who is close to me (girlfriend) I can see nothing other than truly a goddess. I mean- what a beautiful person both inside and out that is here to be by my side forever. And by my side as an equal, as my partner through life that will face any and all challenges with me no matter how trial-some. A woman can truly take care of the man they choose, and by treating women with the ultimate respect a true working relationship is created. Not to mention a man has a someone they can really be themselves around. You do not find that very often once you have grown out of your original household. But with a woman you can let your emotions show while knowing that you won’t be persecuted or judged in any fashion. How can any man look at a woman who he has created the feeling of love with and offer her any form of disrespect in return? How could a man treat the woman of his life like anything other than royalty when knowing that she is his rock, that she could be the future mother of his children, that she will actually help him in creating life? It baffles me and in this article I can offer you no explanation to why it happens- I can only try to show you that there are good men still in existence.

A History

Think about how all throughout history women have not had the same rights they have today. And in areas of the world some still do not have the rights that they are obviously entitled to. And yet, almost everywhere for as long as we have recorded history, women still gave their sacred ability of creating life to the men around them. Perhaps they saw it as their duty, but I like to think those women of the past still chose in a way. I know this was not always the case. But perhaps they continued to gift the world with children with the hope that the next generation or even many, many generations later there would be more men born with eyes that could see women for what they truly are. In my short years being alive I have seen less men with these eyes than those who see woman as objects to be used. And this saddens me. But our world has made progress in this field, and my only wish is that it would speed up tenfold.

I haven’t until this point discussed much of any politics in my writing. But when the world of government collides with my views I must speak some of what I believe in my heart. To have a man, a fellow man, as the president of my country who so blatantly views women as objects disgusts me. I could care less about faults I see with his policies and practices- but when I see that a man who cares nothing of the value of women is leading my country it is tragically disheartening. The president of the United States is a role model looked up to by so many youth. People in the United States grow up with early dreams of someday being president themselves. And while that dream is usually replaced as they grow older, it is evidence of how much we look up to this leader. But I cannot look up to a man, no matter how successful in business he may be, that cares nothing for undervaluing women directly to his people. And to have yet another man, who is so close to becoming a supreme court justice, someone who literally determines cases of rape and misconduct against women, is even more so tragic in my mind. The fact that someone who has committed horrendous acts against women is actually up for this position is truly ridiculous. I think it speaks widely of the state America is becoming in how we as a country view women.

What Must Happen

The men who view women as they truly are, amazing equal humans to share all aspects of life with, must never hide their views. They must teach their children and others they have influence over the sacredness of women. And those in a position of wider influence must share their views with their audience, and tell them why it is right! Women are so amazing, so elegant with beautifully created ideas and aspirations that they have just as much of a right to pursue. We cannot allow this unwarranted disrespect to continue to grow. We all have a voice, and for something so powerful as the idea of treating our fellow humans how they need to be treated, we must use this voice. It’s almost the year 2019- let’s speed up the progress so we can work on more complicated issues in our world, for this, this is something so simple that must be resolved.

 

Your Life Means Your Path

Going through life doing what other people tell you will get old quick. As a child it’s just how the world works- you learn from your parents and teachers. But when you reach a certain age, perhaps around 18 or 19, you begin to use what you’ve leaned about the world to formulate your own plans and ideas. At times it can be hard for both you and those who used to tell you what to do to accept that you are an individual. Sure, there can be sadness associated with growing up, but I believe the overall freedom to take advantage of what the world has to offer in one’s own direction far outweighs the nostalgia.

Maybe you’re older than the ages I said above and you still feel as if you get told what to do day in and day out. While some of this is possibly unavoidable in rare circumstances, I’d say the majority of us are simply not taking full advantage of our human rights. And when I say human rights I don’t mean controversial issues. What I am talking about is every human’s right to do what they choose on this Earth. There are so many wildly different opportunities available to people that it would amaze me if someone could not find at least one path they are interested in.

A quick idea to possibly expand your thinking about the world: at any given time you can picture any type of scenario in your head and there is very likely someone in the world who has either done what you’re imagining in the past, is doing it in the current moment, or will be doing it in the future. That’s pretty crazy if you ask me. But what’s even more exciting about this concept is that it is actual proof that you can do it too. If someone else has done it, why can’t you? The answer is You Can.  And even in the unlikely circumstance that what you want to do hasn’t been done by someone before- could you not be the first? At some point everything that has ever happened was done for the first time by someone. It can make this prospect of doing what you choose even more thrilling when you think that you could not only be the first to do it, but also lead the way to inspire others to succeed.

Often times it isn’t necessarily an individual’s motivation or drive that prevents them from doing what they want, but rather not knowing what exactly to do. You can want something so badly, and be completely willing to do the work it requires to reach that goal, but you just don’t know how to get started. Or you know how to begin the process but after awhile it seems unclear which way to go next- how to keep what you’ve begun growing. But think about this- if it wasn’t challenging to do life your own way then there wouldn’t be nearly as many people being followers. This is why I encourage you to keep at what you’re doing. Even if you aren’t sure where to take your goal next, just do something with it. Because at least if you are staying active in the pursuit of your own goals, you’re less likely to give up on them completely. This, in my mind, is a much better way to go than slowly giving up because you’re afraid the next decision you make on the path to success will be a failure. But even if it does turn out to be a failure you’ve still succeeded in the much larger goal of life- sticking with what YOU want to do.

I don’t believe in the adage that “Even if you fail you can always say you gave it a try.” Don’t stop trying! Never let the failures you encounter lead you back to a life of following others. Allow your failures to alter your path- not block it off completely. Because in the end even if you “gave it a try” I think you’d have more regret in not trying enough to actually make it work. Go all out on your goals because this is your life and what you want this life to be about is entirely your decision. Face the adversity and be even more prideful to the naysayers when you meet your own definition of success!

Why Is It So Hard To Make Money Online?

I think the difficult part is that almost any method of making an online income takes time. And almost everyone who tries one of the common methods like blogging, ecommerce, freelancing, etc are people who just want to make money right away. But who doesn’t?

In order to be successful with any of these online income streams one really has to grind it out. You have to put in serious effort day after day until you start to see the results. From there you can relax a little and eventually get to the point where it only requires you a few hours of work each week. The trouble is that people, myself included, tend to try making money online one way and when they don’t see results right away they switch to trying something else. And I know it’s hard, but in order to be successful at this you really have to stick with what you started!

If your online income idea is blogging- you have to take the time to build up followers. You might even consider spending some money on advertising for your own blog. It seems counteractive to do so (buying ads to eventually put ads on your site) but to make this work you really have to spend some to make some in most cases. At the very least you’ve got to try to put out articles/content on the regular. Otherwise you’re not going to gain traffic at the pace you need to in order to make decent money.

Let’s say you’re trying freelancing. You can be an incredibly skilled writer and still not make money writing for other people. Which leads to my suggestion that if you’re going the freelancing route why not just start your own blog? It’s honestly less work and you can choose what you write about. You’re not stuck searching through site after site trying to find an article you’re knowledgeable on just to find out it gets rejected after three hours of work. If you really insist on writing for someone else I strongly recommend finding a legitimate job with an established company. Otherwise you’re not going to get the consistent work and paychecks that you’re searching for.

Ecommerce- it seems like it’s all the rave these days. Yes it’s true there’s people out there who have made millions off of it. But I’ll let you in on a little secret, no matter what they advertise to you about how you can start making “$2,000 a week with four hours of work” it’s total bullshit. Taking an online course to learn how to do ecommerce is also complete bullshit. The people who you see saying “this ecommerce course isn’t like the other gurus telling you how to make money” yeah guess what that is? Entirely Bullshit. So if you want to go the ecommerce route, and it really is a pretty cool method to try out, just watch Youtube videos. Read a few articles. Learn the basics and then give it your own best shot without copying someone else. Because that’s really the only way it works. The majority of people making money selling products online have been around since the trend started. The whole “drop-shipping” thing is way over saturated and it’s hard to break through the masses.

So here’s what I’ve got for you- if you want to make money online do it for yourself. Market your own content and pass on what everyone else seems to be doing. Because there really is no guarantee to making money online. Trust me, I want to be able to work from home and travel the world and own expensive cars too. The bulk of you reading this want that lifestyle. And who would blame you? So it is worth giving a shot, totally is- just do it your own way. Make your own product, write your own content, create your own videos and then market the hell out of them. Tell friends and family about what you’re doing, tell them to tell their friends. Post ads on social media- whatever you think has a chance of working. Because you have just as much of a chance of being successful doing it your own way than you do following someone else’s lead. Why choose someone else to be your boss or leader when you can be your own?

With Love Comes Loss But Not Without Hope

With Love Comes Loss

A frightful thought indeed.

For we fear the unknown changes that arise without need

Who is to know whether the feeling will fade

Or human nature will lead it to slip away.

With love comes loss but it cannot be feared

We Must Love Unconditionally, putting aside future tears.

There is a love that will last forever

And once you find it there is nothing better,

Who is to know which love will be right?

That’s why each time we feel it, we must seek love at first sight.