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Welcome to the second of my ten-part series where I’m writing about the coolest things that have happened to me because I write. Last week we covered my O.P.U.S. interview blog and this we we’re talking about this:

BZ Launch

That’s right, earlier this week I finally launched Bourbon Zeppelin the newsletter “written by bourbon fans, for bourbon fans.” This is a project that took me seven months of pretty hard work, careful planning a lot of coordinating and a ton of support to get going.

This “the magazine of newsletters” as I’ve called it based on its voluminous content represent the culmination of a lifelong dream. I’ve always wanted to publish a magazine. I loved the idea of the freeform content a magazine brings. It has some focus, but anything that ties into that loose-knit topic is fair game. Your favorite items you simply make “regular columns” and you bring that stuff back as often as you like.  Coverage can vary from quick tidbits to in-depth feature articles.

I always imagined fun group with a lot of think tanks each contributing to make the publication as a whole better.

I have to say it’s early yet, but I think I’ve found it with BZ. I have this incredible group of writers and bourbon enthusiasts who want to make this thing better just because they are passionate about it. In some cases, equally as passionate as I am. I’m also liking how people have their own columns and they are taking ownership of them to make them as good as they possibly can.

I’ve got an online shared spreadsheet that’s kind of like our meeting room where assignments are made and we keep track of where everyone is at. With the first issue going out earlier this week I am fully immersed in issue number two and also adding some content to issue number three. I have topics and topics lined out for monthly issues through the end of the year. Basically, I have to say, this is pretty darn close to running an actual magazine. It certainly replicates how I always envisioned it would be.

You would think it’s all been sunshine and lollipops based on what I’ve just told you. I have to say 99% of it actually has. The only rough moment came at 7:02 a.m. central time on June 1st. I was driving in to work and my phone pinged that I had an email. I looked down and the Zeppelin had come in.

You would think this is the greatest moment ever, right? I mean it’s a lifelong dream finally realized.


I think I had some sort of panic attack. I mean I became so nervous and stressed out. It just became real at that moment. All of the other people who had worked so hard based on a vision I had shared with them would now see. Friends, family, co-workers would be reading it. Over 40,000 of my social media followers would have access to this content I had orchestrated. Companies across the United States had sent in samples to try, products to test for the newsletter I had created.

Would they like it? That’s what it all came down to… would people like it?

I mean, I’m not a professional magazine/newsletter publisher. I’m just a passionate fan who wanted to basically deliver a publication I would want to read.

Over the course of the next few days the response has blown my mind. I’ve gotten the nicest emails from friends. Strangers have reached out to me on social media to tell me how much they like BZ and can’t wait to see more. The P.R. people from the companies featured were thrilled with the professionalism in which we covered their products. New companies not involved in BZ for the first issue have inquired about having us take a look at their products for future issues. One of the columnists said someone randomly reached out to him on social media after his article appeared in our first issue since they live in the same town.

All-in-all, it’s been overwhelming. More than I could have imagined.

Maybe best of all, I found a quarter on the garage floor near the front of my car the day it was published. That probably seems silly to you, but my dad, who passed away in 2012, collected coins and the coincidence of us finding coins during big moments has been amazing. At events we know he would never miss we simply find these random coins in places where they really shouldn’t be. I can’t say I believe in this stuff… nor do I disbelieve. I’m fine just letting it happen.

It have to say, it felt pretty damn good bending over and picking up a quarter on that big day. Twenty-five cents. Someone must have been really pleased with BZ!

Click here to read the first issue of Bourbon Zeppelin!


Write Steve Write! is a weekly blog by author Steve Akley. Typically it is posted on (most) Sundays and features insight about his writing… though there is an occasional movie review or random thought post. It should be noted it’s posted as a live feed… no editing, no planning beforehand, it’s typed out on Sunday morning and the “publish” button is immediately hit. Apologies for any errors but you get this just as Steve thinks it!

Coming Sunday: We’ll be continuing on with my “It’s Because I Write” series next week!

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The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

Evan Haskill’s Blog: I am a contributor here: thebourbonguyandrye.com

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If I was so organized as to maintain a bucketlist of what I wanted to accomplish with my writing career (trust me I am not that organized), publishing a magazine would be at the top of the list.

Magazines just seem so unconfined.

Take a magazine like Esquire for instance:

Question: What’s going to be the focus of the Esquire next month?

Answer: Who knows?

Seriously, there might be an article on the best cars to buy in 2016, followed by great gifts for guys, then it might be the best artisan coffee roasters sandwiched between a full-length feature on Colombian drug lords. Oh yeah, there might even be a hottest celebrity bikini bods photo layout in there too.

Magazines. That’s where it’s at!

The dream of running a magazine? Yeah, that’s probably not going to happen. In fact, there might not be a worse time to run a magazine than right now. The industry hasn’t yet figured out how to cater to consumer who use their phone as a 24-hour newsfeed. A paper publication delivered once a month by the United States Postal Service?

Seems a little outdated, right?

This seemingly unattainable goal might yet still have a chance, though. Recently, a new friend Elisa Cavassi…aka PicTakerGirl, aka ElisaQueens, aka the Diva of ECImagesNYC, gave me a little pep talk about social media. She told me my 27,000+ Twitter followers are my audience. They are my “suscribers” to the content I’m putting out there.

With Elisa’s direction, I got to thinking about my newsletter. How it’s pretty much a basic recap of what’s going on in my writing career, but it could be so much more. I could make it like a magazine with interesting content. If I can deliver on the “interesting” quotient, my “subscribers” are almost certainly going to be more interested in my writing.

Symbiotic, right?

With this in mind, I’m overhauling my newsletter, starting with my first edition in 2016 (scheduled for February 1, 2016). Yes, I will have an update on what’s happening with my writing, but I’m also going to have some interesting content like sampling new products, profiles of fellow artists, contests, etc. (If anyone knows Kate Upton, please tell her I’m interested in a photoshoot). Plus, Elisa’s willing to allow me to feature one of her photos in each issue. I’ve even got some sponsors lined up.

Pretty cool, eh?

Who needs a magazine? I’m the Editor of SAP News (SAP = Steve Akley Publishing)!

If you don’t want to miss out, please sign up for the newsletter by clicking here. By doing so now, you’ll even get to see the final edition of my current format to be delivered on December 1, which features none other than Elisa herself in an interview, as well as some of her photos.


Follow me on Twitter (@steveakley) and/or Instagram (@steveakley)

Follow Elisa Cavassi on Twitter (@ElisaQueens) and/or Instagram (@pictakergirl)