I feel like a dumb ass.
For a brief moment I thought I might be on to something, and I had enough talent to propel me into a different line of work, maybe even a whole new life. I began to think that I was a good enough writer that I might be able to write a book, and somebody in the business believed in my potential enough to help me get there.
But I should have known better.
Let me explain.
As some of you know, I had challenged myself last month to a “30 Days of Blogging” challenge, where I attempted to write and publish a blog post every day for thirty days. Not only did I attempt it, but I achieved it, and they weren’t all that bad. In fact some of those posts were pretty damn good.
So what do you do when you successfully publish a post every day for a month? Take a month off of course, and travel to Puerto Rico with your wife to celebrate (actually we went there to celebrate our 30th Wedding anniversary, but for our purposes here, we’ll say it was for the blog).
I didn’t mean to take a month off, I had only intended to take a few days, but that’s what it turned into. That’s the problem with taking a break, if you’re not careful, it can turn into quitting before you even realize you’ve quit. Bad habits form a lot faster than good ones do, and a lot easier .
I won’t get into why I stopped writing, not now at least. But when a few weeks went by and I realized I had lost my motivation, I looked for inspiration from other blogs, articles and podcasts. I needed something to light the fire that I had the month before and I looked everywhere I could to break out of this funk. Thirty days prior to this and I thought for sure my blogging career was taking off, now I wasn’t sure if it was even worth the effort.
That’s when I found what I thought was my glimmer of hope. I was listening to a podcast that was geared towards blogging, public speaking and things of that nature, and on this one particular episode, they interviewed and individual who had started a writing program that takes in people who have aspirations of being a writer, and trains them on how to write, self publish and market a book.
The wheels in my head began to start turning.
Not only did they train you how to write and publish, but they would help you with marketing, book signing events and speaking tours. They bragged that they had a 98% success rate for the authors they took in, and they had changed lives all across the world.
I know. Even as I write this now, I feel stupid for believing that any of this could apply to me. But the podcast is one of the highest rated shows on iTunes and the host is well known, so I had no doubt it was legit. My curiosity was raised high enough that I figured I take a look at their website. When I did, I was very impressed with what I saw.
This program accepts over 1500 applications a month, and they only accept 45 to 50. The criteria for acceptance was what your book was going to be about and how you intended on helping others with your message. This program was not geared towards fiction writers, poetry or children’s books. It was for writers who wanted to help people. This was designed for people like me.
I started to actually believe I could write a book. Maybe that’s what I was meant to do the whole time and I was wasting time with the blog. “What do I have to lose?” I thought. I needed a boost, and even a rejection would be motivational, simply because I would know that someone looked at my stuff and considered whether or not I had what it took to be a writer. So I sat down and began the application process.
There were a lot of essay questions, which made sense for site looking for writers. They were mostly focused on what your motivation was and where you wanted to end up with your writing career. Stuff like:
“Tell Us Your Book Idea?”
“If selected, what are the reasons you will be committed to working harder than anyone to get this book written? “
“Why is now the right time for you?”
All good questions, and I had great answers for all of them. I went right in to what the Filthy Fifties was all about. How people can change their lives no matter how old they are. That we don’t have to live a life that doesn’t make us happy. That we have to make the best of the time we have left in life, no matter how much time we have. That gratitude is everything.
And of course, the occasional mushroom or pirate joke.
There was a section where you could enter any social media accounts, or any websites you operate, so I punched in my Filthy Fifties Facebook and Instagram accounts, and of course my blog URL. I figured there would be enough samples of my writing for them to make a sound judgment on whether or not I had what it takes to be a writer.
After I completed my application, I kind of chuckled to myself as I hit the submit button. The concept of being picked out of 1500 applicants was an incredible long shot. I had a snowballs chance in hell on being accepted, but then again, they are predicting a really cold winter this year. Maybe I had a chance.
Then… nothing. I didn’t hear back from them, and I wasn’t really surprised. Every now and then, I’d get a random email saying my application was still pending review, but nothing for at least two weeks. Then it happened. I got a text message the other day, from one of the program coaches asking me when would be a good time to have a conversation. I was a little surprised, and a bit excited. Could I really be considered out of all of the applicants they received this month? I messaged her back and waited for her call.
She was very nice. She said I had an impressive application, and I seemed to have a great reason to want to be a writer. I asked her what she thought of my blog, but she said she couldn’t find it with the link I had entered. I found that odd, but didn’t dwell on it too much. She asked if I was totally committed to my project, and at that moment, I realized for the first time that I finally was.
She told me my odds looked good, and she felt pretty confident that I would make it through the selection process.
“How much do you expect to make at the end of this year?” she asked me. I was caught completely off guard. I never really considered how much money I could make writing.
“I don’t know,” I said, “maybe if the book does well, I could make abut $10,000?”. I was totally guessing. Maybe if the book did alright I’d make a couple of bucks, but I was trying to be realistic.
“Most of our authors make over $150,000 in their first year” she said, “on average you could expect to make at least $86,000.” I was blown away. This lady sure thought pretty highly of me, considering she never read any of my work. She instructed me that there would be a second interview, but I needed to watch a video that would help me prepare for it. I agreed and waited for her to send me the link.
The video was a message from the creator of the program. She said she’d read my application, and she was real excited to work with me. That seemed pretty fast since I just got off the phone with the other lady only a half hour ago, but whatever. She stated that I had a 50/50 chance of making it in the program, and stressed that only those who were serious had a chance of working with her.
She repeated the fact that her authors made about $150,000 dollars a year, and that most of your income came from taking on coaching clients and going to speaking engagements. But we would need to act fast. The book would need to be written in less than 9 weeks, in order to make the most of our marketing and sales time hacks.
Marketing and sales? I’m not really into either of those things. No problem, her writing coaches would teach me everything I needed to know about sales, marketing, creating a team to manage my schedule and organizing my speaking engagements. I I needed was determination, commitment to excellence, a strong urge to help people with my message…
…and Fifteen Thousand Dollars.
Wait, did she really just say $15,000?
I backed the video up and played it again to make sure I heard it correctly. Yup $15,000 dollars alright. This money wasn’t a fee for the program according to the video. It was to insure them that I was truly committed to the process and I would see it through. She explained that I should exhaust every effort to get it. Get a new credit card, borrow it from family or friends or even take out a loan at the bank, but I needed it before I could start and I had to be sure I had the funds lined up before my next interview.
Like I said. I am a dumb ass.
I don’t think there ever was 1500 other applicants, and I doubt that they really liked any of the answers on my application, except maybe the part where I said I had a good career. It probably led them to believe I could easily come up with that kind of money. I feel like my 50/50 chance depends greatly on the amount of money I have in my possession at the time of my next interview. Apparently, helping others with your book comes with a healthy price tag.
Now I’m not entirely stupid. I knew this was a business and that there would be a cost, but I figured it would be a tuition comparable to the cost of a school, or maybe even a percentage of whatever my book made. I never expected to get hit with an amount like that, and I really didn’t like how they get people all pumped up, and then slide that in at the end of a video. Oh well, lesson learned.
The moral to this story is simple. There is no short cut to success. There are no special programs or individuals out there that are going to teach you everything you need to know in order make you successful, and no one is going to believe you have great potential from an online application. If you want to be a writer, you need to work hard and deal with a lot of hardship and rejection, and honestly, I don’t think I have the talent or the determination to do that.
I need to focus on my job. I should worry more about being a better manager and logistician that waste my time on improving my writing skills or publishing blog posts. I’m not a writer, or a wellness coach and I’m defiantly not going to write a book. I feel like I’ve been fooling myself this whole time.
This experience taught me a very tough, but much needed lesson. I think my writing days are over.
On second thought,
Forget everything I just said. I’m going to write that book myself.
As a matter of fact, I’m going to write more blog posts than ever and I’m going to publish a book on my own.
Sure it will probably suck, but at the very least, I just saved $15,000.