Writing a book is like running 3 different marathons.

This is a really exciting week for me. And not just because of Christmas and that Michael Buble Christmas Special/Bubly Sparkling water commerical on NBC last night.

This week I published my first book called What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? It’s a project I have been working on for nearly 2 years. You may think that publishing a book is like running a marathon. It is not. It’s like running 3 different marathons. So you will want to carb up before hand.

The 1st Marathon

The first marathon starts with the idea for the book. It includes all of the researching, writing, and re-writing. It ends when you think you have something worth sharing. Sharing your manuscript is kinda like getting into good enough shape that you wouldn’t mind if someone saw you naked. It’s kinda awkward. You’re kinda proud and excited. But you don’t know how you stack up against the other people your publishing partner has seen naked. It’s fun and interesting. As long as they don’t pull out a laser pointer to point out your remaing flaws.

The first step to writing a book is to sit down and write. Or stand up and write if you have one of those stand-up desks. But that doesn’t sound as good. So sit down to start, just so that you can say you did.

The 2nd Marathon

The second marathon is getting the book published. Which includes researching your publishing options, deciding whether to self-publish, other-publish, or a hybrid option. (I published with the amazing team at Ripples Media.) Then you work to eliminate all of the flaws in your book and add anything that may be missing. And things will definitely be missing. This part is like preparing to go to the ball. You get a literary spray tan, botox, and mani-pedi. You get your eyebrows on fleek. You get your hair did. Then you are ready to jump in your carriage, which was recently a pumpkin, and head to the Amazon Ball.

There is my new baby book on Amazon! (I now keep this picture in my wallet.)

The 3rd Marathon

Today, I am at the very beginning of the third marathon. My book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? is published and available on Amazon in both physical and digital form. It’s easy to assume that this is the finish line. It is not. It is critical to remember that getting your book published is simply the end of the second marathon. Now it is time to let the world know your book exists.

A beautiful finished book is a powerful thing. Perhaps the most powerful thing on Earth after the human mind. Because a great book can teach, inspire, entertain, and make you snort cofee out of your nose.

But people have to know about your book in order for it to do the job it was born to do. Others have to be aware that the book exists. They need to understand that there is real value in the book for the reader. They need to know that other people read the book and felt like it was worth their time and their money. Which is why you need to promote the book.

People will also want to know about you, the author. Who are you? Why did you write the book? What is your story? What is the story behind the story? Who have you seen naked? Did you use the laser pointer on them?

Me talking to a class at Marquette Univeristy. Letting people know what I know.

The author’s story is often the bridge to the book itself. This is why the big publishing companies would rather work with famous people. The public has already bought into them. So they will naturally buy their books too. I know it’s lazy, but it’s true.

Key Takeaway

When you commit to writing a book, commit to running all 3 marathons. Write a great manuscript that offers real value to others. Publish your book. Then promote it so that it can have the greatest positive impact on the world. And we all have a world-improving book in us. I hope you write yours.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

My first book is published!

I have always wanted to write a book. In fact, I have envisioned myself writing a whole shelf of books. But I could never seem to find the time to make it a priority. My other responsibilities as a business owner and parent seemed to keep getting in the way. (But based on the headline you read that drew you into this story something must have changed, right? Indeed it did.)

On March 16, 2020, the world went into lockdown mode. There was almost nothing to do outside the home but shop for groceries, hunt for toilet paper, and resanitize your hands, again. During that strange time, I started pulling together ideas for 3 different book concepts I considered writing.

Then, in April of 2020, the Governor announced that the state of Wisconsin would be locked at home until May 26th. My first reaction was that this was a real load of lemons. Then, like Hulk Hogan refusing to remain on the mat, I recognized that it was Country Time! Time to make some good old fashion lemonade!*

Within minutes of learning of the extended lockdown, I recognized the gift I had been given. It was the perfect time to focus on writing the first draft of my first book. Then I gave myself a false deadline. Because that is how I get myself to do big things I am not required to do.

My self-imposed deadline: Deliver a full first draft of my first book by May 25th, 2020. (Which is also my birthday.)

On my birthday I gave myself an epic gift. I had a 50,000-word rough draft finished. By December 30, 2020, I had a second draft written. I spent 2021 learning the publishing process.

Today, I am thrilled to say that my first book is fully baked, birthed, bound, and buyable. Even better, I really love the book.

I was tracking the delivery driver on Sunday and greeted him in my driveway like a long last relative. #BrothersGottaHug
The first time I held my paper baby in my hand.

My goal in writing this book was to make sure that everyone who reads What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say learns a little, laughs a little, and lifts a little. It’s a very positive and optimistic book that offers 80 life lessons that have the power to contribute significantly to your happiness and success. These are all things that have really worked for me. And I wanted to share them because I believe they will work for anyone who applies them.

But I also wanted to write a book that was fun and easy to read. The chapters are quick and enjoyable, punctuated with humor. The book contains several made-up words that spellcheck and my proofreader didn’t know how to process. Which was fun for me.

It is smooth like a baby book’s butt.

My friend Jeff Hilimire told me that when he read the book he laughed out loud every other chapter. I found that to be far more rewarding feedback than winning a Pulitzer or a Newberry. In fact, I think we should have a Giggler Book Award for good books that make us laugh. We could put a gold foil laughing-till-you-cry emoji on our book covers. I would buy all of those Giggler books.

Showing my boys my book. Seeing this picture I am reminded of the great influence we have on our children. And that I really need to get us all haircuts.

The Details

Title: What does your fortune cookie say?

Subhead: 80 Life lessons the universe is trying to share with you.

Publisher: Ripples Media

Length: 290 pages

Where: You can find it on Amazon by clicking this link.

Format: Kindle, paperback, and hardcover.

Also: I have bulk-ordered both paperback and hardcover copies for promotional activities, for those who want signed copies, for book talks, speaking engagements, and for bribing librarians to drop my late fees.

My wife Dawn, reading my thank you to her in the back of the book. Although she is a fast reader, she may have skipped a few pages to get to the end.

What’s Next:

Now I’ve finished running the writing marathon. Which means I start running the book promotion marathon. I expect to learn a ton along the way. I plan to share my learnings so that everyone can benefit from my experience. Because I want you to be smarter and better prepared when you’re ready to write and publish your book. Everyone has a book in them. Including you.

The front cover. Thanks to my teammate at The Weaponry, Joe Kayse for the design. And thanks to everyone who voted on the cover design. This was the runaway winner. Like Julie Roberts in that movie where she wouldn’t get married.
Some nice things people are saying about the book. You can scan that QR code and it will take you to a website about the book. Or visit fortunecookiebook.com.

Key Takeaway

Set big goals for yourself. Then create false deadlines to help you achieve those goals. Keep taking small actions. Those actions keep adding up. And before you know it your words turn into sentences. Sentences turn into paragraphs. Paragraphs turn into chapters. And chapters turn into a book worth reading. The story of your life works the same way. So write a little more of it every day.

To learn more about the book, or order your own copy, visit my page on Amazon by clicking here.

*For younger readers, this is a pop culture reference to an ad campaign for Country Time Lemonade from my childhood. Country Time was what we drank when we weren’t drinking Kool-Aid. We didn’t have your fancy Capri Suns and juice boxes.

I have finally seen a digital copy of my book.

I am in the process of publishing my first book called, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? The book, which has been picked up by independent publisher Ripples Media, shares 80 important life lessons the universe is trying to share with you. Fortunately, the universe shared them with me first and asked me to share them in both hardcover and kindle form. (The universe can be very prescriptive.)

Today, I am far from the romantic notion of writing a book. The fun and fulfilling creative process, and storytelling part of book writing are done. Now I have plunged deep into the mechanics of publishing. We are kerning and leading and deligaturizing. It’s a real literary party up in here.

Learning

I am learning a lot. Including that I am not nearly as irritated by my proofreader as she thinks I have the right to be. I value her like a friend who tells you when you have spinach in your teeth. Or that your fly is open. Or that you have spinach in your fly.

The PDF

I met a fun milestone last weekend. I received a PDF of the fully typeset book on Saturday morning. It was incredible to see a digital copy of the book. It finally looks just like a book. Or at least a Flat Stanley version of a book.

What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? is about 50,000 words, which I was told is a good number to hit for a full-fledged book. (And I don’t want to write an empty-fledged book.) However, I was surprised to discover that the book is 280 pages long. That seems like a lot to write. Which I guess I did.    

On Sunday, I sent a PDF of the full book to some trusted friends to provide a review for the book jacket and for Amazon. It marks the first time anyone but me, my editor, and my proofreader has been able to read the entire book. I felt like a chef at a restaurant sending a new dish out to the dining room for the first time. I hoped the dishes wouldn’t be hurled back at the kitchen door by an angry mob of tastebud-abused patrons. 

The Feedback

I have started to receive their reviews and I am blown away by the things they are saying about the book. They are digging it. They are finding valuable takeaways. They find it to be a quick, and enjoyable read. And I am relieved to not be ducking e-books hurled at my e-head.    

Key Takeaway 

Create that thing you always wanted to create. Share it with the world. Find your proofreader and editor types to help you focus and sharpen your ideas. Your trusted inner circle will provide feedback to help you strengthen and propel your work. The world will be better with your contribution. And you will be better for having shared it.

*If you know someone who would benefit from this message, please share it with them.

What would the author’s bio in your book say?

I am in the final strokes of writing a book called What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? Today I have to write my author’s biography. It’s what people who only have time for 2 syllables call a bio. It’s a 150-200 word summation of why you should give a hoot about what this owl has to say.

It’s harder than it sounds.

This task didn’t sound that challenging to me until I sat down to write it. Sure I know who I am. I have been there for all of my major life events. I tell the short story of me frequently when I meet new people. And sometimes when I meet used people.

However, I am not often trying to convince strangers that I am an expert on self-improvement. What would I say? That I used to be a lot worse? That they should have seen how bad I started out? That in the very beginning I couldn’t even walk, talk, feed myself, or hold my bladder?

My Wife’s Formula

What credentializes me to share my self-improvement and personal growth tips? When I asked my wife Dawn this question she replied quickly with the following succinct summary:

Your Positive Attitude. + Perpetual Self-Education + Life Experience + Professional Success + Athletic Success + Degree in Psychology + Story Telling Skills = Credibility

I thought that was a pretty good summation. I also thought maybe she is the one that should be writing the book. Or at least my bio.

Positive Attitude

It is challenging to summarize my positive attitude, despite the fact that my personal buoyancy is likely one of my greatest and most distinguishing assets.

Perpetual Self-Education

This is also hard to summarize. There are no degrees, certifications, or student loan debt for self-education. Yet my self-education far exceeds my formal education in breadth, depth, and applicability.

Life Experience

This is super important. Yet impossible to summarize within a 200-word bio.

Professional Success

This is easier. I started my advertising career as a junior copywriter. I worked my way up the creative ranks until I became the Chief Creative Officer of a 275-person ad agency. I helped lead the sale of that agency to the giant advertising agency holding company, Publicis. Then I became the lead creative of the largest ad agency in Atlanta.

I have worked on iconic brands including Reddi-Wip, GNC, Nike, Coca Cola, Dasani, Nationwide Insurance, Wells Fargo, UPS, Hertz, Safelite, Mizuno, Bob Evans, Chick-fil-a, Universal Studios, AMC Theaters, Volvo, SeaDoo and Ski-Doo.

I became an entrepreneur in 2016 when I took a big bet on myself (and my amazing future teammates) by launching the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry. Today we have more than 25 clients across the United States, as well as in Canada and India.

Athletic Success

I was a 2-time New England high school track and field champion in the discus. The second time I won was just 8 months after having anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery. I also broke the New Hampshire State record in that meet. I went on to throw the discus and the hammer at The University of Wisconsin, where I started as a walk-on and finished as a captain of a Big Ten Conference Champion team. I ended my career at UW as the #4 discus thrower in school history and #1 in the hammer. In fact, everything I know about self-improvement, goal achievement, and overcoming setbacks can be summarized in this section. 

Degree in Psychology

I have a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin. I learned a lot about the power of attitude, resilience, growth and happiness. In fact, Abraham Maslow, whose hierarchy of needs is foundational to modern psychology was also a product of the UW Madison Psychology program.

Storytelling Skills

I like to share stories. But I don’t know how to tell a story about telling stories. I am hoping the book will do this for me.

Key Takeaway

It’s valuable to think about what makes you worthy to write a book. Why should others turn to you as an authority? What makes you a trusted source? Perhaps we should all spend more time considering our credentials before we offer our advice and opinions. And maybe it’s not quite so simple. Because the world is full of wise souls who lack the proper credentials but are rich with the proper perspective. And maybe you are one of those people. So write and share anyway.

*If you have any good ideas on things I should include in my bio, please let me know. If your thoughts are simply intended to make me laugh, all the better.