Well as most of you know I have just completed, published, and launched my first book. And I have already started my second one.
This blog post is about the writing, publishing, and marketing of my book, Pinstripe Suits to Prison Blues—or as my friend, Tony Gaskins, teaches “The Birthing of a Book.” Andy Andrews, another coach/motivator I listen to, stated that, “The only two things fun about writing a book is deciding to write it and then naming it. After that it turns into hard work.” I could not state this any better myself. In my case, it was also very emotional as I recalled the memory of those that helped make my career, many of whom are now deceased, as well as the remembering the demise of my career and my imprisonment, which holds a whole different set of memories and emotions.
Deciding to write a book is not a commitment to be taken lightly. At a minimum, it takes dedication that can be much harder than at first thought; and that does not even include the emotional side that might or might not be applicable to your own book. My advantage was that the book was laid out and mostly complete in my brain; and although I do have an above average long term memory, there were things that I did not remember or I remembered incorrectly. I also did not include a lot of non-business personal stuff in my book. Even though I had been married several times and had many other business and personal relationships that, of course, helped form the person that I am, if they did not relate directly to my rise as an entrepreneur and businessman, I chose to leave them out of the book. Although many of the people and relationships in my life had as much to do with my success as any of the business folks that directly supported or encouraged me.
As I was finalizing what I thought was the draft that would be ready for editing, I ran the book by several peers for review since it pertained to them. This was very helpful because I received some valuable input and memory nudging that would cause modifications to the book. But the greatest modification of the book came from a “spiritual adviser” who had not even read the rough draft. I asked her to read the draft to see if I had remained true to a commitment I had made to my longtime friend and spiritual adviser, Monsignor John Caulfield, to share the lessons learned and uplifting message of survival based on Faith, Family, and Friends. She asked me to tell her about my concerns and how it related to the book, and I did as the book was now burned into by brain. After telling her about the book, she ask if in prison we all sat around and held hands and sang songs. That is not a quote, but the essence of the conversation. She also asked if bad things happened. I said, of course bad things happen, it’s a prison. She already knew that. She then stated that to honor the promise to my deceased friend to tell the truth and share the pain and lessons learned did not mean that some of the truth was personal or without pain. She told me that I must either tell the truth about prison or scrap the chapter; it was only one chapter at that time. I gave much thought and meditation to her advice and comments.
I had kept a daily journal in prison. I kept it protected in a piece of legal mail that was never searched in the shakedowns mentioned in the book. It was nothing but hand written notes that most could not even read, as it was so poorly written. I read them all—every page—and thought, there is some good stuff here, and I mean bad stuff but good stuff sprinkled in all the way. Yes, this was the first time I had looked at those notes since my return home. They had been in my book writing briefcase and had accompanied me everywhere I went. I put many of the notes in the book almost verbatim, removing any reference to names. I had been told to make sure nothing was personal, and that institutions and agencies sometimes do things that are bad but it is mostly not personal. So I wrote it, and now you can read it.
It was truly a rewarding and yet painful experience to relive all those times. I left out a lot of the pain and tried to promote the uplifting experiences. I really suppressed the pain, including the very personal pain of the press coverage, which was to the best of my accounts about 78% factually incorrect. So many stories about the press were left out of the book so as not to make the press the villain, but simply enough to show the power of the press with very little accountability.
One of my great wishes was to mentor in the prison system, and that was approved last week, although I do not think any involved have read the book yet. But since the mentions of my local prisons and jails was favorable, I hope that will not affect the approval. In the end I finished the book, trying to keep a very long story flowing with just enough stories, good and bad, sprinkled in to keep it interesting.
Then I started the editing process, first with friends and relatives, then myself, and then with a paid editor that I think was sent to me by God. She was great to work with and is now a friend that I never met. Was the book 100% perfect in the end, I am sure not, but I was pleased with the final product. The book cover and the very few pictures were already in my head as well, so I am grateful for the help to get them in print, but the good or bad ideas lie with me. The cover picture of the glasses on the desk has a story in the book. It was a work of love and sharing, dedicating it to all that brought out the best of me in my life.
While taking the blame for the bad and errors totally on myself. The book layout process was another project that I ended up paying to have done, thank God. When the book first came back, I was very unhappy with the layout, so I upgraded the service and started over on the layout. The editor then reedited the book during this process almost for nothing. Another guardian angel sent me way. I am so undeserving but grateful for them all. When the book layout came back the second time, I was very happy and pressed the publish button on December 14th, 2014, my wife’s birthday. I was now a published author.
Hard, yes… rewarding, yes… and helpful to others? That jury is still out, but I did what I could with what I had, and I did it from my heart. I hope and pray that it helps. Just today, I finished the Kindle edition that was publish in late December. I am now working on conversion to Spanish in the honor of several Spanish speaking guardian angels to whom that book will be dedicated. I have also signed for the book to be marketed in Europe.
Yes this was hard, but it is one of the most rewarding project I have ever undertaken in my life. I hope the lessons learned are shared with and touch those to whom it was intended. I have no idea who they are, but they do. Many have said this book would open doors and send me in directions I could not have dreamed. Maybe, but I did not do it for financial reward. My only financial goal is to make back the money I spent in short order. I think that is going to happen, as we spent the first week on Amazon’s Top 100 Hottest New Releases in the Self-Help Motivational category using only social media, a pod cast and a couple of local radio stations to promote the book.
Do you have a book inside of you? If so, my advice is start writing. Use the Microsoft Word book manuscript template, and do not worry about all the technical stuff, not even font or size. Just type. Or get the Dragon voice recognition software, although it hated my southern accent, so I now prefer to just type. As I stated in the beginning, I am now working on my second book and will produce it for about half the cost of my first. Get started, then call or email me. I’ll help. Also remember that what pays my bills, and helps support my helping of others, is consulting and speaking. So if you, your company, or anyone you know is interested, please call or email for pricing. After all, very few in the world have my personal experiences, both good and bad and I would love to share them. Giving life and business from a new and different perspective! I hope that you have a happy, prosperous and safe New Year! If you want to have a good year start it by helping someone else have a GREAT year!
If you have not yet bought the book, you can find it at the link below and the Kindle version is now available on the same link. Thank you all for the outpouring of support!