Small Business, Big Dreams

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 Small Business, Big Dreams

        What many people don’t realize, is that I am not just an author, I am a small business owner.  As such, I juggle daily, the multiple tasks and rolls that any business has to deal with,  only I do it all on my own.  Check out my previous blog, “Weight of the World” posted on September 17, to read more about the joys and stress I encounter while running a small business. But today I have been thinking about it, from a different perspective.  As I think about those, in the small business world, who are just starting out, who have found success and who have had to close up on their dreams, at least for now. But what is a small business?

        According to www.sba.gov, there is a staggering amount of possibilities, when it comes to determining if a company falls within the government guidelines as a small business.  For this post, I looked at the requirements of a book publishing company.  According to the government, any company with 1,250 employees or less, would qualify as a small business.  Considering I only have one official employee, I think I qualify.  As of 2010, there were 29.7 Million small business registered.  Out of all of those millions of business, some will succeed, some will fail and some will just survive.  Their owners will put in 15+ hours a day, 7 days a week for the rest of their lives, just to barely get by.  So one has to ask, why?  Why work so hard for so little?  

        While I can’t tell you why the millions of other business owners do what they do, and why, I can tell you why I do it.  For me, it is the most rewarding adventure, outside of being a father, that I have ever experienced.  It is also one of the most frightening and devastating experience as well.  But for me, every day is a new adventure,  a new chance to be discovered and to find success.  When I am at a book signing, and I meet people and get to talk about my books, I can’t describe how great it feels.  I could be out there, standing for hours on end, my back hurting, my feet hurting, but none of that will matter because I get to do what I love. There’s an old saying, that if it was easy, everyone would do it.  For that very reason, I am grateful that it is difficult because I feel that if you are to be your own boss, you should have to earn it.  That being said, there are those who rightfully deserve to be their own boss, and by all aspects earned it, but their adventure still failed, due to other circumstances. For me, if I am to fail, as long as I can look back and say that I gave it my all, well then I can’t ask for anything more. 

        The fear of failing is one of my biggest motivations that keep me going. Those times, that I just really want to relax, sit back and say forget it, it is then that I ask myself if, after all, I’ve been through, am I really just going to quit?  I’ve come too far, I have too many people counting on me and to many believing in me to just quit.  Now, as I sit here, a few days out from Thanksgiving, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with gratefulness with the situation I find myself in.  I am far from being successful, and am honestly just scraping by financially, but, I am here, doing what I love.  Not many people can say that.  So for that, I thank my God in Heaven, my family here on Earth, and all of you out there that show your support.  Thank you!! 

The Joys of Stress

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The Joys of Stress

        It has been over a year now since I left my full-time job so that I could focus all of my time and energy on being a full-time author.  However, I am much more than that.  Because I started my own publishing company Ohana Books Publishing LLC, I am also the marketing director, the accountant, the publisher, editor, and about 1,000 other little jobs.  All of these other jobs intertwine so thoroughly within my daily activities, that I often overlook the very reason I started all of this, and that was to be an author.  Though I do write almost daily on one writing project or another, very rarely do I get to sit back and enjoy the fact that I write for a living.  It is on the sporadic occasions like yesterday, that I can truly enjoy and stress about the fact that I am a published writer, and that people do like what I do.    

        Yesterday I had a book signing for about five hours at Scottsdale Gun Club.  It is a very nice gun club where I have been a member at for some time, and during my time there I had made some friends.  It was through the help of these friends that I was able to set up the signing yesterday.  I must say too, that I really lucked out, because of the amount of stuff I had with me, we felt it was best to set up outside, right by their front entrance.  This worked perfectly, being able to see everyone not only when they came in, but when they left as well.  But more importantly, the weather was perfect, which made for a beautiful day to be outside and visit with people as they came to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights!  During my time, I got to meet up with people who were at my very first book signing over two years ago, as well as meet up with those whom I’ve only known through social media, such as Instagram.  Plus I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to and meet many new people. Overall, I consider yesterday a success and I am so thankful for the opportunity I had.  The funny part though is hours before, I was sick to my stomach with stress and second-guessed the very idea of doing the event.  

        On a daily basis, I deal with anxiety and stress when it comes to talking to people and even more so, when it comes to people judging my writing.  Because of this, I stress out every time, when I go out to do a book signing.  I always question, “do I really need to do this?”  Even though I know, that once it starts, I will have a great time.  Once I start talking to someone, I truly enjoy it, and typically could talk for hours, if it's on a subject that I like.  Despite all of this, I still worry.  It is a major deal for me, personally, to be able to stand up and tell invite people to judge something that I have done.  Especially my writing, because I put so much of myself into each book I do, so when it is judged poorly, I take that judgment very personally.  I have been getting better, at trying to separate my emotional feelings, from the views of strangers, but still, at times it stings.  Plus now, I get to deal with the fact that the battery in my pacemaker is fading, and the task of standing for nearly five hours puts an enormous amount of physical strain on my body.  Yesterday, by the time I got home, I was worn out rest of the day and had little to no energy. Now though, as I think back to yesterday, I thank my Father in Heaven that he has blessed me with such a great opportunity, and I eagerly look forward to my next chance to get back out there and meet even more people! 

 

Tie a Knot

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   Tie a Knot

    They say that when you reach the end of your rope you should tie a knot, but why does mine look like a noose?  I thought I had a really good idea, it was one that the wife and I had talked about, I spoke with many of my gun friends, and everyone thought to have a gun giveaway was a great idea. When I asked people if they would pay $20 to enter a gun giveaway drawing, they all said yes, so I naturally assumed that they would be willing to pay $15 for a book.  Somehow, a lot of people don't make the connection that buying a book is just as good as buying a raffle ticket.  It’s actually better because with a book you get something that you get to read and pass on.  However it seems that once I mention the word “book” many seem to shun away.  I am still trying to push the Gun Giveaway angle, but am now focusing my attention more on the actual books, then the giveaway aspect. 

    This is all part of running a business, some things work, some don’t.  Unfortunately for me, I don’t have the money or time for things that don’t work.  For me, it is more like battlefield triage.  If something doesn’t show life right away, it will most likely be cut and tossed aside, making room for something that might have a better chance at success.  In this case, I am not cutting the gun giveaway out, really, just focusing my advertisement energy towards the credibility of the books themselves.  This is the harsh reality when you’re running your own small business.  I still believe in the giveaway, deep in my heart, I still feel that it’s a good idea and that I will be able to produce the sales I need to stay afloat.  It’s just difficult at times when you put forth so much energy, time, and money into something, and it doesn’t seem to take off like you had hoped.    

    I have mentioned in previous posts, that the whole point of the Under the Covers blog, was to give a very real, varying personal view of my path of being an independent author.  Sometimes, I have great success and get great opportunities to work with amazing people. Then there are times like this, that seem to drag on, and seem to be overwhelmingly depressing.  In all honesty, if I do not find success with this giveaway, I very well may be done.  The one career I had dreamed about my entire life, something I have put so much into, might be done.  I do not currently have the financial reserves to last much longer.  I need to start seeing a successful profit, and I need to start seeing it now.  So, what do I do?  I don’t want to beg, all I want is to be able to sell my product, I’m even willing to give away an awesome prize.  But, for now, that doesn’t seem to be the most lucrative option.  So, again, what do I do?  I guess that is a question I’ll need to be thinking about this week.  Hopefully soon, before it’s too late, I’ll be able to figure out the answer.  Most importantly, I hope that the noose at the end of my rope, isn’t an indication of how my writing carer will end.  If you wan’t to help, please pick up a copy of one of my books, even if you have one already, They make great Christmas gifts!!

Why Now?

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Why now?

          My dad has a saying, not sure if it is of his creation or if he heard it somewhere else and just always used it.  Either way, it was one that has always stuck with me.  He would always ask the question, “When did Noah build the Ark?”  He would then go on to answer himself, “Before it was raining.” When I started my writing career, I thought I had planned for everything, I thought I was ready. Unfortunately, though, life likes to throw in a few unexpected adventures.  In my case, more than a few financial adventures had struck me and my business hard. 

        I was and am in a dire financial situation, and something had to be done sooner rather than later. Therefore, over a month ago, I came up with an idea of doing the Read & Survive Giveaway, to raise much-needed funds. I had chosen a launch date, purchased needed supplies and everything was put in motion to start.  Then the night before the original start date, the Las Vegas shooting took place.  The next morning I was ready to lunch my Read & Survive Giveaway, however, due to the tragedy I postponed it till the end of the week.  We felt that due to the money already spent, and the dire financial need of my company and my family we would still go through with the launch.  However, myself, as well as others who had helped me promote the Read & Survive Giveaway, have received some criticism.  Saying things such as it is insensitive to do such a giveaway or just evil that we would want to give away a gun.  Causing me to question if I should cancel the giveaway.

        Then this morning a text from my sister-in-law gave me hope again.  She, herself, had been the focus of some of the anger of the anti-gun folks out there, so at first, I thought that she too would be questioning my motive for doing this.  Instead, she pointed out the need for such a promotion, to get people talking.  Then my wife pointed out, that what is happening is exactly like the storyline of my Lost Nation Series. With so much false and misleading information out there (just watch CNN try to explain a bump stock), there is a very vocal group pushing for America to relinquish our freedoms.  They never come straight on, they always come from the perspective of safety or security.  They will tell us it is for our own safety that we give up our rights, that we surrender to their desire, for our own good.  In the past few weeks, we have seen our history come under attack, our very Flag and Anthem disrespected, and now yet again our right to protect ourselves. We are on the verge of losing so much of our freedoms.  In my Lost Nation Series, it took a nationwide blackout to kickstart the socialist regime to overthrow this nation, and now as I sit here, I wonder if it will even take something that drastic?  I’m doing the promotion now, because I have to, because I feel it is right. 

        This whole promotion started though because I need to raise funds rapidly.  I do not want to ask for a handout or charity, all I ask is to be able to sell the products I have made.  So if you are reading this, I ask please, help out, pick up one of my books, help keep an independent book company independent.  If you already have, I say thank you!! Please pass this along to others,  and help us out. Plus you will get a chance to win a very cool gun!     

Entertainment

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For this weeks Under The Covers Blog post, I had something completely different in mind.  I was going to go into detail about the upcoming Ohana Books Read & Survive Giveaway.  But after seeing the news feed on Facebook today, I decided to change it.  I’ll make it short and sweet and to the point.

    I am an author, I make my living, at lest try to, by entertaining others.  I make money, from people willing to pay me to make them laugh, think and enjoy their time, as they escape from reality.  I understand that, and I will never forget that.  I know that when it comes down to it, my job means very little.  Other then providing an income for my family, the only thing I offer is entertainment.  That is something that I will never forget.  The fact that, if you, the consumer is no longer entertained, that all you have to do, is stop buying my product and I will be finished.  It doesn’t matter how great of a writer I am, if know one buys my books, I will not have a writing career. 

    I have written three separate paragraphs, going on about my frustrations with sports players, Hollywood and others, but then deleted them all.  I feel the best thing I can say at this point is, thank you.  Thank you for reading this, thank you for reading my books.  Thank you for the support and encouragement.  Thank you for being part of this great nation.  I know, that without the support of those who read my books, I would not be able to live the life I do.  So, again I say thank you!!!

Weight of the World

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Weight of the World

        According to Greek mythology, Atlas was a fought with the Titans in the war against the Olympians.  After the defeat of the Titans, Zeus punished Atlas for his participation in the war by assigning him to stand at the edge of Gaia (the Earth) and hold up the sky on his shoulders.  As time went on, the story of Atlas took on different shapes, till the most common depiction of him holding the Earth on his shoulder was formed.  It is that image, that most of us think of when we think of Atlas.  We picture this God of a man, standing there, larger than life, his arms upward, while the weight of the world rested upon his shoulders, for all eternity. 

        When I started this blog, I wanted to show and share what it is truly like to be an independent author. Right now it feels like I have taken the place of Atlas, I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders right now.  I haven’t gotten a full nights sleep in the past two weeks, I’ve been having a hard time eating, and every time I sit down to relax, my mind goes in a hundred different directions. The main reason for this is that I am getting ready to launch another book.  It is during these final days before launch, that I am overworked and overstressed, trying to get everything finished and lined up so I can get the book to publishing.  Because I am an independent Author/Publisher, I am basically a one-man operation, thus I have to be the author, the publisher, the marketing director, PR department, customer service, IT tech.

        This time though, there is so much more on the line, my entire dream, my business, and my future are all basically at risk this time.  Due to an unseen and unpredictable financial hit, I am forced to put all my eggs in one basket, if I am to save my writing career.  I have devised a plan, a giveaway of sorts, in an attempt to promote sales of my three books.  This includes giving away a rifle as well as a custom designed knife.  I am hoping that this giveaway will be the spark needed to get things back on track and moving forward because there is so much more I want to do.  However, if it doesn’t, then I will be forced to shelve my writing career for a bit. 

        Failure has always been my biggest fear and still is.  Now, as I sit here, about two weeks away from the big launch, fear has all but paralyzed me.  It’s not just fear of personal failure, I’ve done that enough to be able to handle that.  It's the failure of a father and a provider for my family.  I left a good job, with good benefits and good pay, to go off on my own.  I thought I had thought of everything and had it all covered.  Now, I feel the weight of responsibility crushing me.  It’s difficulties, such as the one that has come at me, which separates the successful from those who are not. One thing is for certain though, I am not giving up.  I am going to fight for my dream, for my family. As a father, I have made a promise to my kids, to always be there for them and to always provided.  Just because life gets difficult, doesn’t mean I give up on that promise.  If I am going to lose my company, my dream that I have had since I was 8 years old, I’m going to lose it swinging.  I’ve never been one to go calmly, and I am not going to start now.  Following your dream, and being your own boss can be difficult at times. However, the reward of such endeavor is so worth it.  It is times like this, that I am reminded, that if it was easy, everyone would do it. Do you have what it takes?

The Bells Still Toll

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    As a writer, inspiration can come in many different forms at many different times.  Case in point, when I started research for my latest book The Great Boat Race, over two years ago, I knew what I wanted the story to be about, but it was missing a soul.  It wasn’t till I was watching a completely different documentary, that I heard a pome, and I knew right away, that it needed to be at the core of this book.  It was the pome No Man Is An Island - by John Donne.  It is a compelling and moving piece, describing how we are all interconnected, that no man can live their lives, without being affected by or affecting the lives of others. 

      I drew upon that idea during the writing of The Great Boat Race, as I tried to show the overall affects that war has upon us all.  Both those at the front line as well as those far removed.  I wanted to show, that a loss of life can be felt, not only across the field of battle, but across generations.  A concept that seems to be personified by tomorrows date, and the events that took place on that heartbreaking day in September.  Tomorrow is September 11th, marking sixteen years since the attack upon the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon as well as the bravery of those aboard Flight 93.  On that day we, as a nation lost just under 3,000 people, but as a whole, we lost our since of invincibility.  If you can remember that day, as most of us do, I’m sure you remember the since of loss, confusion and sadness.  I remember distinctly watching the TV for hours, as it continued live reports, and as new information would be discovered. As they began to interview survivors and family members who were missing loved ones, my heart ached for each of them.  I truly felt like a part of me had died.  There was a man, a father, who's 20 something year old daughter worked in the Twin Towers.  He stood in front of the camera, and with tears in his eyes, he begged for her to call him if she was okay.  He mentioned how she would always laugh, and how he would give anything to hear that laugh one more time.  As a father myself, at that time my oldest was one years old and my second was just a few months old.  I could only imagine the pain felt at such an immense loss.  Just last year I was watching a new documentary about 9/11 and they found the man, and interviewed him.  Unfortunately, he never heard his daughter laugh again.  She would be listed amongst the thousands of other victims lost in the Towers.     

    It was the emotions of that day and the day’s that followed, that I drew upon when I tried to visualize the loss of so many.  It’s easy to forget about others, to get caught up in our own lives, and narrow everything down to just the screen on our smart phone.  However, if we forget the sacrifice of others, both grand and small, if we do not see others in pain and reach out to help, then we have already lost.  In the past week or so, our nation has been hit hard by major storms, and I am proud to see so many willing to help.  We, as a nation, need to stop worrying about our Selfies and start worrying about our neighbors.  There are forces, both man made as well as natural, that are trying to tear us apart. We need to stand tall against the winds of our advisory, we must be united.  Let us not forget, those who still fight for us, in foreign lands, as well as those who stand ready here upon our home land. The poem, No Man Is an Island, closes by saying, “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” Let us all remember, that we are all connected.  The loss of one united soul is a loss to us all.

Count Me In

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    When I first started writing, I grabbed some of the books that I had, and tried to figure out how many words were in them.  Now keep in mind, I first started writing when I was twelve years old, that was 1985.  There was no Google back then, no internet for that matter.  So I counted, by hand, how many words there were on three pages, then I took the average word count per page and multiplied by how many pages there were.  First off, yes I am that big of an analytical nerd, and second it gave me a general idea of how many pages I would have to type out. Now, over 30 years later, much farther along in my writing career, I’m still obsessed with word count.  But why? Am I trying to write more to please the "elietest" of readers, or am I doing it to build a better story?

    I’ll be honest, I’m a bit insecure when it comes to my writing.  That being one of the main reasons it took me so long to start actually sharing some of my stories with people. Every time I get a review, my stomach gets literally sick, especially if they say ANYTHING negative.  So when I got a 3 Star review a few months back, it bothered me, especially when the person who wrote the review mentioned how they normally only read books 600 pages or more.  They were reviewing my first book which was only like 250 pages.  That really stuck with me, because I purposely kept my first book around 90K words, per the industry average of any first book.  The review made me feel like they were personally attacking my intellect, saying I was incapable of writing a 600 page book.

    Now that I’ve completed my third book, and am starting to write my fourth, I did some research on “word count” and how much does it really matter. That’s when I came across an interesting article called “So Many Words, So Little Time” by Moira Allen located at www.writing-world.com In the article it points out that Moira points out that a typical novel in the 1960’s & 70’s was around 200 pages, wile today most range from 500 to 600 pages.  They also point out the interesting correlation between the increase in word count or page count and the decrease in readers.  Now, to be fair, we as a population today, is inundated with technology, and distractions.  However is that the only reason less people read today?  Could it be that people don’t have time to invest in a 600 page book, especially if that book is part of a never ending series?  I don’t know, it’s something, as an author, I think about.  So that being said, after I finish book three of the Lost Nation Series, I was going to start a series of short stories, like no more than 80K words (like 200-250 pages). The hope is to bring back the “casual” reader.  Someone who just wants a fun read on the bus or train to work and back, or to read on breaks at work.  As an author and a fan of the written word, I know how difficult it can be to carve out time to escape into a book.  

    What are your thoughts?  Have we as a society become lazy, or is it really the case of “so many words, so little time?” 

Take a Peek!

There is an age old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Unfortunately in the world of book publishing, and book sales, almost every single book is judged by its cover.  I started Under the Covers blog as a way to give everyone a sneak peak behind the curtain.  To let you see what all truly goes on between the binders, and under the covers of creating, publishing, marketing and selling books in the Independent Book market. So take a peek, I won't tell.