Friday, September 30, 2011

Social Media & Author Tips

When new authors jump into the world of social media & indie publishing - you tend to learn some useful things. The past four months have been an amazing crash course for me. 

My top ten list of social media / author tips:

1) Pricing books are important. Though you'll never get rich, e-readers love books under $5 and even better under $1.
2) Vanity Presses price their books so high, they can price an author right out of people purchasing them (aren't you glad you cancelled that old contract, Greg?)
3) Egos abound in every field. You may bruise some as you work with design teams, authors, etc - but try and remember everyone wants what is best for your baby...and their own. 
4) Indie Pricing = 'give books away' - (you'll make next to nothing from an indie publisher) but hey: you really want people to read your stuff, right?
5) Get involved in social media conversations that have nothing to do with your product/book.
6) Read. Read. Read. (and write reviews of other author's work! You want someone doing that for you too.)
7) Don't 'cleverly' hide your own product inside posting about something else. (Everyone can tell and Amazon hates it when reviewers do it)
8) Let your friends on FB/twitter share information about your book so it's not always coming from you.
9) Share information about your friend's book so it's not always coming from them.
10) Pay-it-forward: if you find something/learn something helpful: share it. We're all in this together!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kids with Autism are Super-Heroes Too!

Readers of my blog know that I've talked about my godson Gabe who was diagnosed with autism when he was very young. For the past year, I've spent (almost) every Wednesday going to dinner with him, his sister and his mother. Most children with autism need a set schedule where they know exactly what is going to happen. And let's just say we don't veer off of that Wednesday night of eating at Friday's where he can get his chicken fingers, French fries and red velvet cake.  So one night at dinner, his sister Natalie (who is growing up so fast as she's a freshman in high school) and I were busy watching him and started thinking of a super hero named chicken boy: and a children's picture book idea was born. 

I have noticed that most children's books on this subject are from the perspective of a sibling or a friend and never from the mind of that brilliant child who just happens to be locked inside of their own world. This book (while conceived by myself and Natalie) is told through his voice as a very basic attempt of a child with autism to try and alleviate the concerns of other children around him because of what they perceive as 'strange'. The story shows that children with autism are just like other children, capable of imaginations full of wonderful pretend games.

This morning, I entered “Chicken Boy: The Amazing Adventures of a Super Hero with Autism” in a competition to get a children’s book published. We are excited to see what comes of this and all of you will be able to be involved. From November 28-December 18, there is a manuscript voting round where everyone will be able to go and ‘vote’ on the story they like. (And we’re going to need EVERYONE to vote!) The finalist round (which we really hope to make it to that point) will be January 31-February 21, 2012 and a winner will be announced by March 7. Now I know people are thinking I’m completely crazy for getting myself in yet another writing project, but I’m at my most happiest and best when juggling several things. And I think this drives home the point that I never want to be considered a ‘one-genre author’.

Plus: I want our little chicken boy super hero’s story to be read by many, many children. Autism isn’t anything for other children to fear…they just need to know a little more about it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

From IT to the Arts

I have completely enjoyed myself interviewing people this month on their career changes. Getting to know what makes people tick from all different parts of the country...meeting them online. It has been eye opening and hopefully - inspiring to others thinking of taking the plunge. (And I'm speaking to some specific people and you know who you are.)

I was amazed by the amount of people that switched from something in the corporate world to that of a creative venture. Completely different side of the brain, but a most gratifying one I can assure. 

I wanted to share this great spotlight that Back Of the Book Reviews has done on me, my writing, and the very change I made a few short years ago. They are a group formed in spring of 2011 by friends in the UK and the US and have really been awesome about getting the word out on new authors as well as reviews on many books. I follow them on twitter and facebook and learn some wonderful things about what is happening in the world of writing. Be sure and check them out.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Get Your Voice Heard

Have you ever picked up a book by the <insert latest/greatest writer here>, finished the book and thought to yourself " is awesome this person was discovered and got their voice heard"? We hear amazing stories all the time of certain writers that were down on the luck, standing in the unemployment line, tired of the endless rejections when that one person finally took notice of them. Or they got the call from Oprah. Or their manuscript was pulled from the slush pile and published. These are awesome stories to hear. But for every one of those, there are endless others out there you may never hear from. 

This is one of the reasons I'm so inspired by the change in the publishing industry. Yes, I've heard the reason why it is the end of the world as we know it: there are no gatekeepers to tell you what is good and what is bad; you have to weed through some 'not so good' stuff to find a gem. But there are plenty of traditionally published books I've read that I actually thought "who read this and said it was good?" The same goes with some big Hollywood movies I've seen and questioned how they ever got made. But for me, the point is publishing is catching up with Indie Filmmaking and Indie artist recording their own music. And I have to say: I'm reading some pretty amazing stuff coming out of those small presses and indie authors that I may never have gotten a chance to read.

We indie authors have a tough road ahead of us in getting the word out about our work, but authors are doing it. I'm watching it happen everyday and seeing amazing success stories. Back to my original thought about the latest/greatest writer...I feel that way reading certain indie authors: " is awesome this person got their voice heard." The difference is they did not get to the masses through a national marketing campaign where you see their face on the side of a bus or a table full of their books when you walk into a large chain bookstore. 

But I'm lucky I found them: and just maybe others will find them too. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

You've Got To Be Taught

I don't want to take on an entire campaign (and I can admit a year ago I even blogged with my own story of how it got better), but I can't help but wonder if we are sending the correct message to the youth who are being bullied and feel so alone. Think back to when you were that age. Life was not about the future. It was the here and now. Everything felt intense - no matter the size of the issue. If parents told you things would be better later, did you want to hear that or did you want the problem fixed then? 

I think it is great to remind youth that it will eventually get better down the road, but I really believe we need to be helping them in the present. How do they deal with those feelings of being different? Who can they talk to? What tools are there to cope with it? I applaud the groups taking on the bullies head on. That must be addressed. I agree with the organizations and states attempting to make laws against bullying (a hate crime). But if only we could get to these kids while they are in the depth of their despair and somehow encourage them to know they are special and wanted and loved. 

But does all of society feel that way?

I'm going to say - no. They don't. They want to be able to tell someone "you are wrong for being gay" - but that opposition turns into verbal abuse and for a child, it is very hard to take. These bullies are being taught to BE bullies. They hear the loud voices of people that scream about sin and disgust and take it to the next level of slurs and violence. 

The musical South Pacific had an amazing song that was so true when it was written so many decades ago: and yet still true today.

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

Tell the children it will get better - but educate yourselves and them to learn now. See what groups are planning events near you and take your own children to hear the message. Garden State Equality presents a Week of Respect Kick-Off event on Saturday, October 1 from 11-1:00 at John H. Walker Middle School in Nutley, NJ. Call 973-509-5428 for more information.

Friday, September 23, 2011

'Planning A Party' Career

I’ve watched my friend Angela (who I knew from doing theater) the past few years really take off with a business she started and I have been so incredibly impressed. This mother of twins saw an opportunity from something she knew she did well, loved to do, and created an amazing service that can be utilized by so many people (including yours truly who hired her for the Book Release Party in NYC).
Angela Shafer 
       So, what did you do previously and what is your business now?
I was a med tech for a cardiologist office. I liked my job, but once the girls were born it didn't make sense for me to work because we would pay more in day care then I made. We still needed some source of income and the party business just fell in my lap almost five years ago…FIVE years.  I enjoy planning parties and events and had helped out with my friend’s wedding, planned my sister’s baby shower, etc....and just loved it! Then people started to ask me to do things for them for pay and it just steam rolled from there. I started to acquire more and more tools and supplies little by little and was able to do bigger and better things with every design!  
     How did you choose party planning?
I don't know that I chose this business or if it chose me if that makes any sense. It started out as a little extra money here and there and now it has grown so much that I hire help when I need it. I love working with people to come up with the perfect theme for their party and then watching it bloom from invitation to favor! I pride myself on personalizing and tailoring everything I make to fit my client’s needs. 
     How has your life (mom/wife/person) changed? 
Life has changed a lot....I was used to going to work and then coming home. Work was done...but now it is NEVER done! (I just need a good week with nothing but my house and a bucket of cleaning products!) J The business takes most of my time and the kids take up all that is left! My family is very, very supportive! Everyone from my husband to my mother, father, and sister have helped out in one way or another and I think it is funny that my kids know what everything I make is called and the name of all the tools I use. Looks like I am grooming them to take over the family business!  
     Do you have advice for someone who may be thinking of starting their own business? 
Figure out what you are doing, take it slow, and have people who want to help are gonna need it!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do You Judge a Book By The Cover?

There are so many Indie authors out there now - all looking for a piece of the Hocking/Locke pie. Indie/self-published authors have been thought of as 2nd class citizens for so long due to lack of editing, poor cover design and layout and a myriad of other issues. Yet there are numerous indie publishing houses that put the time and effort into those elements to create a product that can stand along side books coming out of a traditional house.

I will admit - I was always a snob about that very thing. When I saw a glossy cover, it screamed to me 'self published'. At one point I had signed with a vanity printing company (and I'm glad I got out of that contract), but was always unsatisfied when I looked through their inventory of books. I realize we should not 'judge a book by its cover' - but people do. And I do. I think many people place a value on a book based on how it looks and is designed. 

I was so please when the exterior and interior design of my book came back from my designer, Brion Sausser. We went through two exterior designs and I was thrilled with the final product. The interior was also so well laid out that I hoped the content I had written would stand up to his design of the entire book. 

I've met so many indie and self published authors this summer and have read several of their books. Of course, if you're creating an eBook - the layout and design sometimes seem to be "thrown right out the window" (because each device we use slightly alters the look and format so the design you intended may not always be what you see on the screen). But there is something about getting that print version in your hands that makes an author feel like they have truly arrived. Large publishing house, small indie press: much love and heart goes into what they are producing. And that's exactly how I feel about my book.

I want to end this blog with a question. What types of books are you drawn to when you go into a store? Covers that are glossy are matted? Photos of people on the front of something more symbolic of the story? Share your thoughts. I'm really interested in how readers are judging those covers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Inspired By Tragedy

Horatio Spafford
Writers are inspired by so many different things and in my case; Well with My Soul was taken from the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” written by Horatio Spafford. How someone could write those lyrics after so many traumatic experiences is inspiring in itself.

Spafford was a successful lawyer with a practice in Chicago. His only son died in 1871 at the age of four years old. Spafford invested in much real estate in his town, but became a victim of the great Chicago Fire which wiped him out financially when most of his properties burned. In 1873, he was to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville de Havre, but was delayed due to business and his family went without him. That ship sank in the Atlantic and all four of his daughter’s died. His wife sent a telegram to him that read “Saved alone.” As he traveled to meet up with his wife, he penned “It Is Well With My Soul” as he passed the place where his daughters had drowned.    

I love the back story on this man’s life and believe that everyone has a story within them. It is how they choose to deliver it and more importantly – learn from it – that sets them apart. I created a very different type of story in my novel about two brothers raised under the same roof, but grew into very different men. But circumstance upon circumstance continue to pile up on their lives and choices they make affect each of them as they attempt to find that inner peace that miraculously Spafford was able to find when he wrote these lyrics.  

When peach like a river, attendeth my way.
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trails should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My Sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well...with my soul.
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weather And a Few Signs...

Bill Evans & his book. Photo: Bob Luckey 
That's what got me out of the house tonight to do what all new authors should do. Get to a bookstore and watch another author lead their book signing. In this instance, this name came up three times the past week - so something told me I needed to go. Oddly enough, when creating my list of people to send Well With My Soul to last year for testimonials - his name was on my list then. He had worked in Dallas in the late 80s and moved to NYC right after I did from DFW to work with WABC-TV in '89 and is their senior meteorologist. His stints performing on stage along with his southern upbringing made me believe I wanted to get my book to Bill Evans, but I never did. 

The past few years, Bill Evans has turned to writing and has three novels out (a 4th next June) and a children's book due in February. He told us tonight he has known since 13 he wanted to be a weatherman, but when I asked about his writing and being an author...he said it was about getting his research on weather topics out to more people. You can see the enthusiasm for what he does and it's obvious he has a love for combing his joy of weather with 'thriller type' novels. I'm really looking forward to reading his work and can't thank him enough for a pretty cool night for this debut novel writer. 

Bill & Greg
I had a copy of my book in my bag and through prodding from some very nice people I spoke with waiting in line to get our books signed, the opportunity presented itself and I took a photo with us both doing the 'author pose' holding our books. Then when I gave it to him and tried to slip away - he told me I had to sign it for him and so he provided my first 'unofficial signing'. What a guy! He has no idea how he made this small author feel, but I did get a great lesson in how to treat those people who show up, buy your book, and spend a few moments learning about you and your writing. Grab his new book Dry Ice and give his weather-infused novel a try!

Thanks, Mr. Evans. I'll be looking for my weather report from you tomorrow morning.

Texans Unite...In NYC!

Twitter is a land where you can meet people from all over and this particular one and I have more in common than I ever knew. We both moved from Texas to NYC to be an actor (of course, I’m not any longer) and even the current job we both have now is in the same field.  (BTW: I loved his response about his name:  Normally there is a comma before "Jr." but when I first moved to NYC and had my headshots printed, the printer left off the "," and from that point forward, my stage name is Robert Gonzales Jr. "without the comma".  

Robert Gonzales Jr.

I was born a raised in Texas and only lived in two towns:  one where I grew up and the other where I went to school and stayed there after finishing, which was a small town. I had gone to school for Business from Texas A&M University and was working as the Assistant to the Director of Academic Support Services in the Office of Admissions and Records for Texas A&M. I was also working part-time as the House Manager for the large theater complex at the University. I have been performing for most of my life, but decided I wanted to pursue it full time in 2002, when I made the decision to move from Texas to New York City. Making the move was quite a culture shock but I knew I had to do it. I decided to pursue a career as a musical theater actor---i am known as a quadruple-threat as I can sing, dance, act and play an instrument. In addition to my acting, i also choreograph, teach dance, music direct and direct. I also work at the Managing Director of a performing arts center as part of a institution of higher education.
 What made you decide to leave the business world behind and go into performing?

I had always loved performing since I was young but never thought that I was talented enough to do it as a profession.  It wasn't until I became very involved with the theater in Bryan/College Station, TX and the surrounding areas did I finally come to the conclusion this is what I really needed to do.  At that same time, my best friend was just leaving Texas to come to NYC to go to acting school. I had made promise to him that if he applied, made it in and actually attended the school, then I would follow him to NYC within two years. I brought him up to NYC to start school and right before we parted, he said, "Don't forget your promise." I then arrived back in Texas and started planning to move to NYC within two years. I moved to NYC 2 years and 1 month later.

I've always met so many Texans in NYC. How has life changed for this Texan?

I feel as if my life is more fulfilled because of it. "They" always say that there is a reason and purpose in everyone's life. I feel as if this one mine. I enjoy performing for people and taking them away from their day-to-day lives for at least 2 hours and providing them with entertainment.  

 Any advice you have for someone wanting to take the plunge?

The decision I made to move in NYC is something that I wouldn't change for anything. I have been quite fortunate that my move was the right one and I have been very successful in my new profession. I came with small goals I wanted to accomplish and once I made them, i made new ones that were bigger than the ones before. I think that's what keeps me going that I have achieved many successes and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Giving up everything you have and doing something brand new isn't for everyone. It took me 2 years to plan and save and do what needed to be done before moving and changing my life. Make sure it is something that you really want to do and have a backup plan, just in case.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

All Over The World

I’ve preached on my blog about authors that look at numbers and how that can discourage (or encourage) depending on what’s going on. But I did want to just say that the statistics page on bloggers is really interesting (and I’m not talking about which blog of mine draws more attention). I mean the part about the different countries outside of my own that have viewed my blog: Germany, the UK, Australia, Canada, France, India, Zambia, Switzerland, and Ireland...what a sense of connection to something beyond my computer! It's what the internet has really done for me as I've discovered the joy of blogging and social media. FB started out as a way to talk to people I know - with twitter - it became about talking to people that I don't know and meeting new people; many working towards the same goals that I have. But blogging gives me an outlet to talk about so many different things. Hopefully allowing people to think about what they read and an attempt to give a slightly different voice to my liberal (sometimes more middle) way of thinking and seeing the world. Thanks to all those countries for checking out the fat guy. Perhaps I should be blogging about the food from each of those places…see how easily my mind can go right back to my stomach?  

Friday, September 16, 2011

When Change Involves a Higher Calling

Here is a real ‘change story’ from a very close friend of mine. Richard J. Colonna

I've known you for ten years now...and while I've known you as a performer, you always had that 'real job' on the side. Tell me a little about what you were doing and how long you did it.
Well in 1985, I decided to make a career change, left the world of retail management/merchandising, and entered into the telecommunications field. For 26 years I did everything from work in a customer center call center for residential users to design fiber optic disaster proof voice/data networks. The last 7 of the 26 years I designed, created, launched and managed a new hire sales training program which evolved to become a sales university company wide.

I know you were a victim of the "Corp Downsizing" machine. How did the thought of it make you feel?  
It completely tore down my self esteem. Downsizing didn't just hover over my head during my last job - it followed me throughout the 26 years. I remember having to lay off an entire customer service department of 30+ people. And I was always looking over my own shoulder waiting for the downsizing knife to strike. In the 26 years of being in telecommunications I went through 10 mergers and acquisitions. 

So the exciting part...share what new path you have embarked on.  
Well, I've always been a spiritual person... not necessarily glued to any particular religion. Though I grew up as a Roman Catholic, I consider myself Christian and currently am a member of the Episcopal church. Particularly one that is very inclusive of all shapes and sizes of people...straight, gay, transgender, questioning, old, young, people of color, you name it. However, I have always been intrigued and accepting of all faiths since as far back as I can remember...which is why this new venture as an interfaith Minister seems so perfect for me. That combined with me just being a person who lives for getting to know others, giving advice, wanting to comfort people during difficult times, being a great listener and just overall wanting global happiness, seemed to also lead me down this new road. 

Was this something you've always wanted to do or was it an extension of your faith as well as your years performing?  
I would say a combination of both. As a young boy, I prayed a great deal. I was brutally bullied throughout my younger years and prayer was a way to keep me strong and to help me get through each day. Somehow I evolved to become the person who everyone went to as a confidant, or to get advice. In my younger years, I did think about becoming a priest, but with no disrespect to the Catholic Church, it was for all the wrong reasons. Has performing helped me? You bet. I was able to shine, become someone else, and safely explore my emotions or those of other characters. And theater spilled over into my professional life when I would travel and deliver huge presentations in front of hundreds of people. Being in front of the head of a mega-billion dollar corporation was a theatrical experience for me that allowed me to identify and connect with the individuals.  

Starting your own company must be daunting. Is there a mentor or someone assisting you?  
Yes, there is a mentor. Reverend John Graff Jr. has been the most inspiring, kind, caring, patient, generous human being that I've met in a long time. I cannot begin to express how fortunate and grateful I am to have been brought under his wing. He has given me this opportunity of a lifetime and it is and will change my life for the better.

I know this has just begun for you - but can you already get a sense of it being life changing or do you see yourself back in Corp America again?  
Honestly, if I never have to be in Corporate America again, it won't be too soon. It was a long run and one that had its life expectancy. It's time for a change. I feel it in the core of my being and I'm not even afraid...I'm excited like a little boy on his way to Disney World. If we take a hard look at past moments in our lives when we've gotten though periods that we thought we'd never get through, and not only did we get through them but became stronger, healthier and wiser individuals - we'd see that there is nothing we can't accomplish.

What do you say to people who are thinking of starting their own business (whatever that may be)?  
I'm taking a risk just like anyone would; investing my time to be strategic, grow it and expand my client base (if you will). But I've also given myself a deadline and some goals for 6 months and a year. Right now the glass needs to be overflowing and I need to be confident that I can make this work. Also, let me throw in there, that supportive family and friends help a great deal. I have the most incredible group of people standing behind me, ready to lift me up, cheer me on and wipe my forehead when I get weary. What else could I ask for?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Adrenaline & Writing

I have come across so many different people as I follow authors on twitter and I’ve been following one and read his bio on Amazon when I thought “I need to share this story on my blog.” Here in the middle of September (5 years since I walked away from my job at Corp America to work in the arts), I give you another person who made that change in life. There are many out there! Are you one? (Drop me a line if you want to share your story too.)
James J Caterino

What is the new career path you chose that was a departure from before?
Freelance writing. Screenwriting, fiction, online reviews and articles, and some copywriting.

How long have you been doing it?
Since 2002.

What was your career prior to doing this?
I was a stockbroker. Very much in the old school tradition of what you saw Charlie Sheen doing in Wall Street. I loved the adrenaline and the action. But then the business changed. Everyone had to become a “banker”.

What made you decide to walk away from that?
I always wrote from a very young age. That urge, that hunger to create never goes away. And if you try to keep suppressing it you will go insane, literally!  Back then it was short stories. But my obsession with movies drew me to screenwriting and in the late 90's I went about trying to master the form and looked into attending some film school classes. The brokerage business was changing and I knew it was time to take my one and only shot, so in 2002 I took the plunge and went for it.

How has your life changed since you've done it?
I can tell you I am a much better “thinker” now. It’s hard to verbalize, but if you are a creative person in any way, you know what I mean about needing to have an outlet for that expression and have something to show for it.

Any advice you have for others?
When I was a broker I was taught “ABC” meaning “Always Be Closing”. Now I say “ABC” - “Always Be Creating”.

Don’t obsess over sales or number of “fans”. If you want to make lots of money, writing is not the way to go. If you want money, get in the money business. If you want to create, then dammit just create.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Could You Last 24 Hours?

This past weekend I watched the movie 127 Hours for the first time. When I had heard this movie was up for so many awards, I couldn't understand how. A movie with basically one character and some rocks (my thoughts at the time) - what could be so spectacular about it? I can admit when my stupid brain is just that: stupid. The film making alone is worth all the accolades it received. The director had a vision and I so loved how that vision was translated on screen. From the cinematography to the music to the split screens, to James Franco's performance - this is an amazing film to watch.
Aron Ralston & James Franco who portrayed him in 127 Hours
But the story. The way we get inside of Aron Ralston's head. The man that seemed to have more confidence than anyone I've met (enough so to go out in the canyons alone to go climbing). And then the perseverance he had. The survival instincts. The sheer will to live. I was completely blown away and wept by the film's end. 

I believe I have a strong will to go on and move forward - but can never imagine living through something like this. And honestly, do not know if I would have it in me. But I guess that's the point: no one really knows until faced with such a challenge. Unless you have gone through a traumatic experience, you can't really speak to how you would react in that situation.

When I watch something like this or read a book about challenges, I feel I'm to apply it to my own life...the challenges I face (that are nothing as drastic) and use these lessons to face my own small battles. If we can't look at others for enlightenment and encouragement - then what is it all for? Thank you Danny Boyle for making films like this that challenge and inspire all in the same sitting.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How Much is that Book in the Window?

I read blogs and articles from so many authors - both debut authors starting out in the business to those that have been churning out books for a while. A common discussion I see is how hard it is for authors to get their books into physical stores. This is one reason so many authors have turned to the online giants...those very virtual stores that have become a thorn in the sides of so many brick and mortar places. I for one like it all. I love to browse through a bookstore for books (preferably a smaller indie store) as well as have the ease of going quickly online and download a book to my electronic reader. 

There are so many books out there, it would be impossible for them all to get into stores. Which is why authors turn into marketers and call up a store to see if they'll carry their book (and you better have a pretty good reason of why it would be a seller. Authors may want to SEE their books on a shelf, but book owners want to see them walking out the door in a customer's hand). 

I'm fighting my own battle in getting Well With My Soul into stores (though I'm honored that a few here and there are asking to read it and/or bringing me in for a reading). 

But if people want to help out an author they love: walk into that Indie store and ask for the book. Tell the bookstore owner they should be carrying it and that you would purchase it from them. That's one of the thrills of still being able to go into an actual store; your voice can be heard as a patron and a book lover.

(And if you happen to see Well With My Soul in a store this fall: snap a photo of it and put it up on my facebook page!) 

Four weeks and counting...

Monday, September 12, 2011

When One Career Change Isn't Enough

I’ve known today’s ‘guest’ for over 30 years as she has been my friend since we were in the 5th grade. Miles separate us, but we have managed to stay connected through those years and she has coached me and encouraged me in so many areas. I’ve always been in awe of everything she has done in her life…especially since we came from the very same block growing up. Meet Pamela Milam!

Pamela Milam, MA, LPC
Counseling and Life Coaching

I’ve made 2 major career changes.  One was in 1997 and the next one was in 2010. First, around 1997, I decided to go back to school -- I went to graduate school to become a Master's Level Licensed Therapist. I made the leap from working as a clinic worker and being on the “cleaning crew” to becoming a therapist in private practice. I worked in a clinic setting, helping to prepare patients for surgery. I also was on the "cleaning crew", which is just a more palatable way of saying, "I was a janitor." I remember having a friend who was in a Masters Program for Social Work. She interviewed me for a paper she had to write. After I read her paper (before she turned it in), I thought to myself, "Why am I afraid to go to graduate school? I could have written that paper myself!" It occurred to me that I could do it too, so I did. Looking back, I appreciate my friend for including me in her school project – it was a turning point.  

Second, around 2010, I decided that I wanted to add non-fiction writing to my career path. have maintained my private practice as a therapist for over 10 years (working as a therapist and as a life coach), but a year or so ago, a colleague named Nathaniel Smith asked me to co-author an Anger Management Workbook with him. His enthusiasm helped me to move forward in a new direction. I might never have considered writing a book, if Nathaniel had not approached me with the idea. Once we started the workbook project, I realized I was ready to stretch, grow, and continue to try new things. And then you, Greg, are someone who has been especially encouraging in that regard as I’ve pitched future projects to you and you geared up immediately with information, guidance, and advice. Your willingness to read my rough drafts and brainstorm together gave me confidence that the whole endeavor was worthwhile.   

I remember being told you can't make a living as a therapist. I now know that's not true. It all hinges on how hard you're willing to work. When I completed graduate school, I strengthened my sense of personal identity, gained skills that could be used both personally and professionally, enjoyed more day to day freedom, and increased my earning power. In short, after graduate school, I had more time, more fun, and more money. I would advise others: Do what interests you when possible and keep learning no matter what. If you find yourself losing momentum or motivation in your career, you can avoid burnout by learning more about your career and tackling it from new angles. Since I’ve added writing to my skill-set, I've felt more motivated and fulfilled in general. I feel even more curious about other people and their experiences, and I have found that I enjoy the collaborative process. 

The common theme I noticed from both of my career changes was this:  Other people.  Prior to both career changes, I was motivated or inspired by another person. All it took was for someone to point the way or encourage me to come along for a new experience. Now I want to make sure that I’m able to do for others what was done for me. When I see someone with a skill, talent, or aptitude, I tell that person what I see. It’s possible that something I notice in someone else will spark a thought, provide a flash of insight, or stimulate a new way of looking at options and possibilities – it might even start that person down a new career path.

Pamela is working on a book entitled, What Your Therapist Really Thinks About You and a compilation of essays about Integrity, Self-Righteousness, and Personal Growth.