Em’s Extras: Self Publishing Series Part VI

Dear readers, thank you for sticking around during this self-indulging series about my publishing journey. I would like to imagine that at least one person reading these posts, has dusted their manuscript or even started one. And that same person now feels hopeful about the fact that there is a reachable option for their book. 

Today, I want to write about marketing your book, specifically through social media. This year so far has been especially challenging with Covid-19. Still, even before the virus, I learned and understood the critical role that social media plays when promoting basically anything these days. 

Here is what I have learned so far:

  1. This first question is crucial: Are you writing a book for yourself or your closed ones? Or are you writing a book with another purpose? Say–inspiring or motivating or entertaining. There is no right or wrong answer. If your answer is the latter, you need to accept that you need to do online marketing. And embrace it.
  2. Pick your resources wisely: there is a lot of online resources, the following two made a huge difference in my journey, Reinvention Revolution and Wharton’s Virtual Marketing Course.
  3. Choose your channels based on your audience: first, identify who your reader is first and then choose the social media platform accordingly. In my case, Instagram is my preferred channel. 
  4. Make a plan: at the beginning being active in social media was giving me anxiety. I was overthinking everything, and I had a lot of questions about “the ideal number of posts per day.” I created a simple spreadsheet with weekly objectives, and that gave me a sense of order and control. 
  5. Keep learning: keep reading about trends, hashtags, audiences, reach, attract readers, etc., Keep asking questions, keep taking courses, keep improving your page, your blog. 

My self-publishing journey is not over yet. I see it as a marathon, and it is safe to say I’m probably just crossing the half. The Fearless e-book comes out next week (June 10th-YAY). The printed book will start being distributed worldwide until later in the summer (August 17th-YAY!). This means that I need to keep pushing. I want my writing to reach broader audiences, and in 2020 if I wish to have the slightest chance to achieve that, I need to use social media wisely and positively. But most importantly, authentically. 

That is my final learning (and probably one of the most important ones) when it comes to social media and putting myself out there, authenticity matters. Even if you feel that things take longer than expected. Even if you think you need to go with the flow. As in all things in life, authenticity is vital. 

This is the end of the self-publishing series. Again, thank you for sticking around and sorry if I wasn’t diligent enough with keeping Em’s Extras to Fridays only. Starting next week, my plan is to send you only one blog post weekly. Let me know if you have anything, in particular, you wish to see.

Thank you, thank you.

Em and the Shelf in Instagram

Fearless e-book comes out next week: June 10th!

Click the image to know where you can pre-order.

My Summer Book Shelf

After two weeks without reading an actual book, but ironically reading a lot about books and authors, I am excited to share with all of you how my bookshelf will look this summer. 

Books by Fearless Women of the World

  1. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.

Teeming with life and crackling with energy — a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood.

2. The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation.

3. The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger

It’s 1944, and sixteen-year-old ballerina and gymnast Edith Eger is sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. 

4. Spirited by Julie Cohen

A moving and gripping story about three women who keep unspeakable truths.

5. The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan

A celebration of community, family, and the value of hard work in small-town America.

6. Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. 

Within every woman, there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species.

7. Coffueled by Marguga/Maria Andrea Guzman

A compilation of words written over coffee cups around Madrid’s coffee shops. A written and visual journey about a year of creation, destruction, and introspection.

8. Fearless by Marcela Franco Rivera

A compilation of personal and inspirational answers to the question, “what would I do if I weren’t afraid?”

Book about a topic I know absolutely nothing about:

9. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe. 

A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

Re-Reading Classics for the Soul

10. Cien años de soledad by Gabriel García Márquez

 Una de las aventuras literarias más fascinantes de nuestro siglo.

11. Animal Farm by George Orwell

George Orwell’s timeless and timely allegorical novel—a scathing satire on a downtrodden society’s blind march towards totalitarianism.

One of my 2020 resolutions is to be more mindful of my book selection process and to try my best to ensure my reading is diverse enough. Also, I pledged to myself to read mostly books written by females authors. The above list makes me really proud. Let me know if you add any of these books to your summer shelf or even better share yours. 

I will, of course, share all the book reviews through @emandtheshelf’s Instagram account. And I might feature some books here at the blog as well. 

I have some book shopping to do!

Music Lover?

One of my best friends just did a kick-ass out of this world playlist for her birthday. It has songs in order from 1983 to the date.


Blogs and Accounts that have been inspiring me lately:

Fearless e-book release is June 10th!

Click the picture to pre-order the book today!

Em’s Extras: Self Publishing Series Part V

While finishing my manuscript, I went into several online rabbit holes trying to research as much as possible about every self-publishing option. During one of those winter afternoons glued to my laptop, and after too many cups of coffee, I found Bookbaby. And so thankful I did!

I am writing this blog today, from a happy customer’s perspective–nothing more. I’ll include all the Bookbaby’s links here for you to check them out. They have a lot of resources available, and their customer service team is excellent, so I encourage you to call them if you are interested. 

For the purpose of this series, I believe it is more important for me to share why I chose Bookbaby instead of listing their services. So, here is why I chose them:

  1. After using 99designs for my first book cover, I learn that the interior design of the printed and digital book was as important as the cover. 99designs works by bids, and even though I had a good experience with them, I wanted to try another platform. 
  2. My preference was to outsource all the remaining steps from one or maybe two platforms at the most. This is were Bookbaby caught first my attention since the company is a one-stop-shop for all self-publishing related services. 
  3. Until this step, most of the “Fearless” process was strictly online (edition & design). Even though my editor was great, all communication was through email. So, when I called Bookbaby, and a very professional, wise, and helpful lady answered, it felt nice. 
  4. When I first decided to go through the self-publishing journey, I knew that I wanted to outsource edition and design. I initially thought that I could handle distribution (which in essence is a separate Amazon process). But, after reading a couple of manuals, I started getting extremely anxious. 
  5. Candidly, I didn’t want the transactional parts of the process to steal the joy of this journey. This realization led me to consider one of the self-publishing packages that Bookbaby offers, which includes worldwide distribution. 
  6. I think I spoke 6 times with Bookbaby’s Consultant–Ramona, before deciding on a package deal with them. Every time I spoke with her, I learned something new. This made me add the learning component to my investment. I knew that if I chose Bookbaby, I could learn exponentially about the whole process vs., doing online research by myself. 

In Fearless, I wrote: “Taking charge of my life, to me, means not just having control by choosing a specific decision but the real commitment to the process that will make a choice a reality. And not just a simple reality— the best possible reality within the framework of that decision.”

Choosing Bookbaby was my way of taking charge of the process. Of aiming for the best possible reality for Fearless. Of committing to the process not only financially but backed up by learnings and care. 

Next week I’ll be ending this series with a brief post about my online marketing learnings.

Thank you for reading me and for supporting my journey,

Bookbaby’s Helpful Links:



A Coffee with Self-Doubt

Self-Doubt is a sneaky guest that seems to pop-up anywhere and everywhere, uninvited and unannounced. Self-Doubt is keen to hang out with women in general (believe me, have asked plenty of my girlfriends). But it is fair to assume that everyone has dealt with or is dealing with this unwanted guest.

Must confess that a couple of months ago, Self-Doubt was not being sneaky on me. To my surprise, I was consciously sending it invitations to tag along. We were chatting daily. Every morning, we would have long conversations during breakfast. I found myself practically saving Self-Doubt a seat at my table.

One of those mornings, while refilling my favorite mug with dark roasted Colombian coffee (my favorite), it hit me. I had coffee dates with Self-Doubt daily. I could not help to laugh about the irony of it all. Here I was, drinking coffee from a mug that literally said in bright pink and gold letters: “She believed she could, so she did,” about to go back to the table and consciously dissect every one of my negative thoughts.

The only coffee dates that are not encouraged. 

Standing in my kitchen, staring blankly at the coffee maker, I could feel an epiphany rising not just in my mind, but in my chest. At that moment, I asked myself these three questions: Where does Self-Doubt come from? Why it seems to be always present? Why does it always find its way back to me?

Almost instantly, a fourth and more powerful question came to me: Why do you care?

I had to admit to myself that these so-called coffee dates were part of my routine now. I was hosting and entertaining Self-Doubt, but I didn’t like this guest. I didn’t want it at my home. I didn’t wish for Self-Doubt to have a seat on my table.

Maybe it was a bit overdramatic, but that day I felt I needed to do it. I sat at my table, pulled up a chair, and said (out loud), “Coffee dates are over starting now, you are not welcome here. I do not want or need you, so just go the hell away.”

Of course, this is not the end of the story. Self-doubt is persistent. After that conversation, I reflected a lot about why I was feeling that way. Self-doubt will always be around and will always try to sneak back. It is powerful, though, to acknowledge its presence and to dismiss it. Loud and clear.

The acknowledgment part seems to be the trickiest. Acknowledging its presence could take one minute, one hour, or way longer. I do not know precisely why, but I have learned that perceived weakness and vulnerability are involved.

By acknowledging Self-Doubt, we are accepting that we are vulnerable to this self-made negative guest, and sometimes that is scary. It is scary to consciously accept not just its presence but the impacts it has brought to our lives and to specific situations, choices, decisions, and interactions.

Accepting that I had these dates daily was hard. It was scary to look back four weeks or even a week before and realize the role Self-Doubt was playing in my life. It had had a protagonist role everywhere, lately. At work, in my feelings towards my body and in my mood. Self-doubt was taking a front seat in conversations with my partner and in how I envisioned my future goals at the time.

Be Fearless. Allowing Self-Doubt to hang out with you does not make you weak. It is just a moment of weakness; nothing more. Be Fearless to remind yourself of this and move on. Acknowledging its presence only makes us stronger. The ability to identify and understand our fears is critical not just in the path of reinvention or following our dreams, but in the actual act of living.

There will be times were a loud-voiced dismissal will be enough. Sometimes, however, the effort to not make conversation or entertain this intruder will be tremendous. It gets easier, with time. And with reflection.

Reflection can mean pulling up a chair and having a coffee with yourself. Reflection can mean meditating or writing about how you feel. Reflection can be talking with a friend, mentor, or coach. When reflecting, try to answer two questions. Why do you care about Self-Doubt’s opinion? What is triggering its presence?

Self-Doubt is a fierce enemy, one of the toughest there is. So as with every enemy, the final step is to assemble. After acknowledgment and reflection, it is time to fight against it. Be relentless. Resist the urge to pull up a chair and give it a seat at your table. Be merciless, and never be afraid of saying to its face (sometimes out loud): Go the hell away!

So, dear YOU, my Fearless friend, let’s take action and spread the voice: Acknowledge, Reflect & Assemble!

Em’s Extras: Self Publishing Series Part IV

Time to talk about Design! You have already arrived at the best possible version of your book after one, two, or more rounds of edition and revision. After that, you celebrated loudly the fact that your book is ready to be read. Now, it is time to focus on the Cover Design.

Learnings and Helpful insights:

  1. Do proper research. Which means, see other book covers. See the colors, the font, the proportions. Make interpretations as to why the author decided to go with that specific color, font, or image. 
  2. Consider the genre, title, and subtitle of your book. Your cover needs to be coherent, not only with the title.
  3. Do not underestimate the importance of the subtitle. (It could be the final push someone needs to decide to read your book.)
  4. Consider your target audience. Who is your reader? What is the type of cover that will appeal to YOUR reader?
  5. Don’t forget the back cover. Think thoroughly about your back cover’s text, just as the subtitle, don’t underestimate its importance.
  6. If you can, hire a professional. This will ensure that the idea you have translates appropriately.* (For this step, I recommend https://99designs.dk/ or https://www.bookbaby.com/book-design/)
  7. Ask the designer for the thumbnail version of the cover. This way, you get a decent idea, of how the book will look in Amazon and other digital platforms.
  8. Don’t ask too many people about their opinion. If you want to involve your friends or family in the selection process, choose 2-3 people to help you spar ideas. 

The self-publishing series will have at least two more posts. In the next post, I will share my particular experience with Bookbaby, their self-publishing packages, and why I chose their services. 

As always, if you have any questions, I will be delighted to answer them or help you in your writing journey. 

Thank you for reading me,


What do you like the most about my book cover? Would you make any changes? Let me know in comments.

Click the book covers to pre-order or buy Fearless today!

Dear Fearless Reader, Thank you in advance.

Dear Fearless Reader,

Thank you. Thank you, because you have chosen to let a piece of my soul in your life. Thank you for wanting to read my book, and thank you for choosing to.

I want to thank your eyes, in advance, because they will be the ones to see the words I have chosen for you. By seeing the words, your eyes will see me. In today’s world, we have SO many things to see, and the fact that you have chosen to see me is priceless.

While writing this, the hair in my arms bristle. They bristle, just by the thought, that just maybe, your arm hairs could bristle too while reading Fearless, because you feel connected and inspired. Because you relate, and now you yearn to reflect.

I also want to thank your hands, the ones that will hold my book. It is quite magical, how by holding those 90 pages, bound together, you will be holding my heart. Even if you are holding it through your phone or tablet, don’t doubt it. It is my heart in your hands. So let me tell you in advance how much I love your hands.

I also want to thank your spine. Because your spine will allow you to tilt your head forward to read. Your spine will flex depending on the position you take to let Fearless in. I imagine you, smiling or closing your eyes. I imagine you reading, first sitting up, and then laying on your back. What do I know? Maybe it’s the other way around.

Last but not least, I want to thank your legs, I am not sure if literally or figuratively. What I know is that I hope that when you finish reading Fearless, you feel inspired to move forward. To move towards your goals. To move away from guilt, to move deeper into forgiveness, and that you start or continue your path towards naked happiness.

So dear reader, I thank your eyes, your arm hairs, your hands, your spine, and your legs in advance. But especially your heart that made you choose this book.


Pre-Order Fearless Today


Em’s Extras: Self Publishing Series Part 3.5

I’m calling this post, part 3.5 instead of 4. Because after one, two, or whatever number of rounds of editing and revision, you decide to do. At the end of the Editing & Revision path, you will arrive at the final version of your book! YES, the final version of YOUR book!

And I want you to take a pause and celebrate. Take it all in. Because you have the final version of your book in your hands. And if it is your first book, you will never experience that feeling again. The feeling of arriving at the best possible version.

Celebrate loudly, because yes, it is not bound as a book–yet, you probably haven’t started to think about the cover or format, but those white pages with words on them, that is YOUR book.

This celebration is essential and deserved. Take the advice from someone that didn’t pause. This is one of those occasions where I should have ignore my doer’s voice and just converse avidly with the dreamer in me.

Instead of taking a pause and celebrate and scream and dance around, I went from a state of shock to action immediately. I don’t want you to miss the bliss that comes when you have ultimately reached a fantastic and much-desired destination.

Click the picture, and it will take you to all the Fearless pre-order and purchase options!

Em’s Extras: Self Publishing Series Part III

When you finished your manuscript, the next significant milestone is editing. In my experience, informal editing was as crucial as formal editing.

Both types of editing can involve correction, organization of ideas, modification of chapters, replacement, deleting, or even rewriting. Be open to ALL of it!

I think that informal editing could be two things: self-revision and all of those opportunities to show people around you, your work, and get feedback.

For the self-revision process, Grammarly Premium is a fantastic tool! Grammarly corrects grammar, spelling, and even helps with style. It is effortless and fun to use. I would highly recommend this tool for anyone writing non-fiction, fiction, or even social media and/or business communications.


Showing people you trust your work not only helps with confidence but also helps to overcome the fear of critique. While writing Fearless, I did three reading parties with girlfriends in Honduras, Spain, and Mexico. I printed some chapters, and we talked about them over wine. One important thing is to prepare prompts or specific questions in advance, not just ask them, “what did you think?”.

Formal editing needs to be seen as an investment, never an expense. It is truly an investment in your work, is more than just “polishing” your work. It is sharing your work with a professional neutral party, with someone that would enhance what you have written. And not just in terms of the actual writing but also in terms of the reader’s experience.

Learnings from my (formal) editing journey:

  1. Do your research: I spent a lot of time reading reviews and submitting free samples to various online editing platforms. I wanted to get a sense of what they were offering, response time, quality, and overall vibe. I recommend using Scribendi or Bookbaby services.

2. Understanding the different types of the editing process is critical: I did two editing rounds for my book. The first one I did is called manuscript editing. It is an in-depth line by line revision; it identifies language issues, and the editor gives advice about content. The second round is called proofreading, which provides a careful final review focusing on grammar and spelling. 


3. If you are happy with your first editor, stick with her/him. If you are not satisfied, find another one: my first editor (manuscript editor) was great! I felt she really connected with my book’s purpose. She really understood what I was trying to accomplish. I asked her to do the second round as well. 

4. Trust your editor, but also trust yourself. It needs to be a two-way relationship, I think that is why I enjoyed so much the process with Scribendi. The editor was really mindful of all the proposed changes-even with the ones I didn’t agree with. 

This is a photo of the Mexico Fearless Reading Party.
Left to Right: Dooku, Clau, Clarissa, Mariana & me.

If this is a path you are curious about, I’m happy to answer any questions.

Thank you for reading me,


To Pre-Order Fearless

Click this link:


About gratitude, tough days and a little escape…

These past few days have been tough, I keep thinking that right this second I should be in Honduras enjoying time with my family and with the book events at full-speed. I allow myself to think about that and even dwell a little. Still, I consciously make an effort to summoned gratitude feelings. Because people are suffering around the world, and I know I’m blessed with my health and my family’s health.

A while ago, I wrote about how I love inspiring quotes and the power of affirmations. If you remember this post: https://emandtheshelf.blog/2020/01/17/ems-extras-january-17th-2020/, back in January I shared with you my daily affirmations. I recently edited my list, I made it more “living in a world with corona” appropriate.

They are still serving as a kind reminder to enjoy the journey (no matter what) and to kick anxiety’s ass. I intentionally did the affirmations cards, just with Copenhagen photos, to purposefully remind myself of how beautiful my current home is.

What we tell ourselves matter! I hope this inspires you, who knows maybe it’s time for you to adjust what you are saying to yourself, as well.

Thank you for reading me, M.

Little Escapes

Commencement Speech by Admiral William H. McRaven

One of the best speeches I have heard, not only because of how it is written but of the way it is delivered.

Free Online Yoga Sessions in English and Spanish

You can find all the details in pachamanita’s Instagram profile.

Pre-Order my first book Fearless

Fearless Chapter List

I wanted to share with you today, the chapter list of my upcoming book Fearless. Each chapter is an answer to the question, “What would I do if I were not afraid?” Some chapters are lighter, others are heavier, but everyone one of them is filled with honesty, learnings, personal anecdotes, and reflections. 

I started to write Fearless back in 2017; the essays were written over a span of three years.

Chapter 1: I Would Be the Best Version of Myself

Chapter 2: I Would Forgive Myself

Chapter 3: I Would Continue to Be Relevant

Chapter 4: I Would Take Charge of My Life

Chapter 5: I Would Stop Feeling Guilty

Chapter 6: I Would Embrace My Impact

Chapter 7: I Would Mourn Freely

Chapter 8: I Would Start Saying No

Chapter 9: I Would Live Honoring Naked Happiness

Is there a chapter that instantly caught your attention? Write it in the comments, and I will pick one or two people to send that specific chapter before the release date! (This giveaway is only for Em’s blog community, so there are more chances!)

Click here to pre-order the digital version of Fearlesshttps://emandtheshelf.blog/read-fearless/