Tag Archives: newsletter

IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 9/10

I have been doing a bit of a retrospective over my three years of writing by listing the top 10 things that have happened to me since I have started writing.

Topics Covered So Far:

#1 of 10 – My O.P.U.S. Blog

#2 of 10 – Bourbon Zeppelin

#3 of 10 – Meeting a Hero of Mine

#4 of 10 – My Love Affair with Hawaii

#5 of 10 – The Time My Books Were Featured on TV

#6 of 10 – The Story I Took 35 Years to Complete

#7 of 10 – Bourbon Mixology

#8 or 10 – Telephone Call with a St. Louis Legend

———————————–

In this post…

My New Friends

One of the greatest elements to come out of my writing has been the incredible new friends I have picked up via social media. Prior to beginning to publish books in 2013, I wasn’t involved in any form of social media other than LinkedIn. I actually only joined that site as it became a requirement of my job at that time (I ran a private group we had).

While most people are on social media, those who aren’t totally get what I’m saying when I say I had no interest in any form of social media (though, they aren’t reading this since…well, they aren’t on social media). Okay, for those of you on social media and have embraced it forever, how can I explain my disdain for it. Well, it’s like this. You know how you feel about whatever social media platform you don’t use? Well, that’s how I felt about all social media.

What does that mean?

Well, if you are a Facebook person, but you don’t do Twitter, it’s because Facebook provides you with meaningful relationships and time-worthy insight into the lives of friends, family and social media buddies.

Twitter on the other hand…

Well it’s just for people who want to spy on others or share stupid updates on what they are eating right now. You don’t have time for that. Facebook, though. That’s great.

The problem is, you turn it around and it’s the Twitter person who is only making meaningful connections and Facebook is a complete waste of time in their eyes…or Instagram…or Snap Chat. (I barely even know what that one is…I mean who has time for the meaningless interactions…wait, there I go!)

Anyway, in 2013, I joined social media not to make friends, or even interact with others but to promote my work.

Somewhere along this journey, I started making friends. Not just virtual buddies where you like each other’s photos and make an occasional comment… like real friendships. Once I opened up to the concept, and redefined the term “friendship” in my own head, it’s been great. I’ve traded tough to find bourbons with people. I’ve used many of the people I’ve met online to seek advice from. You can’t believe the help I’ve gotten from people I’ve never met or even talked to on the phone with some of the projects I’m working on. I’ve built up interest in my work by interviewing new people with my O.P.U.S. blog.

The biggest surprise has been the collaborations. I’ve got a strong network of friends I’ve been buddies with since grade school. They aren’t necessarily into bourbon and writing like I am. Online, I’ve been able to find people with totally different lives than my own who I completely connect with based on the interests we have. We’ve turned these common interests into these really fun collaborations that evolve into such cool things. I know Evan Haskill, Amanda Hoppes and I have worked together from some really fun posts on Evan’s thebourbonguyandrye.com blog. Jenna Brownson, Amanda Hoppes, Samm Lim and I finished an eBook called Brain Tsunami we will be publishing soon. Evan and I are working on a book that is going to be really strong. Something we would want in our own library so it has to be interest to others, right?

Just this past week, I had someone reach out to me which could prove to be the biggest thing I’ve done to date. I’m not telling you about that one just yet. Nope. You gotta wait for that one until next week because it’s going to close out this series. It’s the capper to an incredible look back at what’s happened to me since I started writing.

All of these connections, and opportunities, come from one source and one thing alone…

It’s because I write!

_______________________

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 finish my “It’s Because I Write” series next week!

In the meantime, follow check in on Steve in a variety of ways:

Steve’s Catalog on Amazon: http://goo.gl/kJpKcP

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

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

Sign Up for Steve’s SAP News (writing updates) Newsletter: Email Registration

Sign up for Bourbon Zeppelin (bourbon newsletter): Email Registration

Check out the latest issue of Bourbon Zeppelin: See it here!

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

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IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 2/10

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.

Nope.

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!

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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!

In the meantime, follow check in on Steve in a variety of ways:

Steve’s Catalog on Amazon: http://goo.gl/kJpKcP

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

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

Sign Up for Steve’s Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

STILL MORE BOURBON ZEPPELIN NEWS

Have you ever heard an artist say one of the biggest challenges of creating a painting is knowing when it’s done?

I mean you are creating a world and you can continue to refine and enhance it seemingly forever. At some point you simply have to stop and say it’s done.

I’m kind of at that point with Bourbon Zeppelin, my bourbon-themed newsletter. From the standpoint of content, the first issue is almost done. I’m still waiting on two brief articles from contributors but the heavy lifting is definitely done. The layout is complete and the other 95% of the content is written, edited and set in place in the document.

I simply can’t quit going back and adding some new touches to it, though. I’m continually going into B.Z. #1 and reviewing the edited material again, adding new graphics, increasing the links in the articles so readers can be taken to the content they are reading about.

In summary, I don’t actually know how you ever feel like it’s complete and ready for publication.

Man, June 1 at 7:00 a.m. central time can’t come quick enough… because that’s the publication date/time and it’s the only time I think I feel like this first issue is going to be complete. When it is sitting in your email inbox… that’s when issue #1 will be totally done!

_______________________

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: I don’t know what I’ll be talking about on here next week, but something will come up I am sure.

In the meantime, follow check in on Steve in a variety of ways:

Steve’s Catalog on Amazon: http://goo.gl/kJpKcP

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

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

Sign Up for Steve’s Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

Home Phone: I’m not giving you that!

TIME TO TALK BOURBON ZEPPELIN

BZ Logo

After teasing the concept in social media for five months, and working on it for over seven months, it’s finally time to talk about Bourbon Zeppelin…

It’s almost time.

On June 1, 2016, Bourbon Zeppelin will finally launch. Bourbon Zeppelin, or B.Z. as I’m also calling it, is a newsletter I am in the process of creating which will appeal to the moderate to fanatical bourbon fan. In a nutshell, it’s everything bourbon.

You see, bourbon fans love the distilled beverage, but they also want more when it comes to the juice aged in charred white oak barrels. They like the history of bourbon, getting to know the people behind the favorite brands, they love items which help them enjoy bourbon (glassware, bar tools, etc.), they like products which showcase their love for bourbon they even are fans of products made with bourbon (soaps, candies, ice cream and more).

Bourbon has become so popular it seems like this type of information is everywhere if your eyes are open to it, but it’s not in one nice and neat place. That one place is going to be Bourbon Zeppelin.

So why the name Bourbon Zeppelin?

First of all, I love the name. It just came to me one day and then the idea of how I would do this all fell in place after I had that super catchy moniker for it. It’s a little rock ‘n roll.

Bourbon Zeppelin… like Led Zeppelin.

To me that aspect works, because bourbon is the king of distilled spirits rock ‘n roll right now in the U.S. market. Also, like a good rock ‘n roll band whose sound starts to permeate outside of the country where it starts, bourbon is picking up steam around the world. It’s becoming more-and-more popular outside of the U.S. which is cool because bourbon truly is the United States contribution to the world of distilled spirits. Everything else… vodka, rum, brandy, cognac, other forms of whiskey were all created elsewhere.

I also thought the name Bourbon Zeppelin was perfect for this project because zeppelins are used to promote products. B.Z. is going to be promoting the bourbon industry.

Perfection!

The final reason why I really am a fan of the name is the branding opportunities. Zeppelins are cool. Bourbon is cool. Put them together and you’ve got a pretty awesome underlying theme for your brand. My buddy Mark Hansen, a graphic artist, is doing all of my graphics work by hand-drawing my graphics with a vintage look. I’ve got him creating a database of graphics I will be able to use for this publication that will give it an incredible look that is very appealing to the eye.

The plan is to email B.Z. out monthly to my personal email database (300+ and counting) and promote it to my 40,000+ social media followers. The format is single column feature article to open it up, a few words by me, then it’s a three-column format with quick bits about various things bourbon fans are interested in (the bourbon “lifestyle” with products fans will be interested in, group bourbon reviews, bourbon book reviews, a monthly cocktail, the rumor mill, and more).

After the three-column “quick hits” section, it transitions back to a one column format with more articles and regular features (I’ve got a husband and wife team of bourbon experts answering questions about bourbon, a classic reviewer who will be providing detailed tasting notes about a bourbon each month, etc.).

All of the content comes in three ways.

1). I create it.

2). A team of friends from Instagram and Twitter, serving as contributors, helps provide content.

3). Industry insiders.

The “industry insiders” are individuals I have recruited to contribute. I am surveying them on a monthly basis and they respond with potential content for B.Z. I take the best of what my contributors submit and create the newsletter.

Currently, I have over 200 industry insiders. These are people that work for distilleries or adjacent markets (products that either support the bourbon industry or are made of it). I have been able to get them on board by reaching them via email and telling them about the project. Two hundred is a big number, but my initial list was over 700 strong. I’m planning on revisiting the ones that didn’t respond after the first edition is published. It’s difficult getting people to buy into your idea when it’s just a concept. I think even more will be onboard when they see what I am doing with the information/content they would potentially be providing.

So Bourbon Zeppelin is going to be a big hit, right?

I sure hope so. It’s been a long journey getting here. In reality, I have no idea. The way I see it, there are two ways it could go wrong:

1). The audience isn’t there. I think there is going to be a lot of interest in this project, but I don’t know for sure. I do know there is a strong trend to make e-newsletters shorter. People don’t want the Wall Street Journal style in newsletters, they want the USA Today style. This is clearly going to be the opposite of that trend. I am promoting it as the magazine of newsletters and I hope the bourbon fanatics soak up all of this great information like a sponge. Then again, maybe I can’t buck the trend of shorter is better and it’s a flop.

2). Will the contributors keep contributing? These publication goes nowhere if the contributors don’t see the value in what I’m doing. I think this takes care of itself if I shore up number one and it finds an audience. After all, these brands want to promote their products, so I’m guessing if I deliver and audience they want to be there and will contribute, but I haven’t done this before so I don’t know.

I’m hoping B.Z. is big. Really big. The audience looks forward to it being published each month, the industry insiders love what I’m doing and it’s great fun along the way. That would be the ultimate success for this project.

So that my friends is finally the “rest of the story” about Bourbon Zeppelin. Look for that first issue on June 1st.

_______________________

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: I don’t know what I’ll be talking about on here next week, but something will come up I am sure.

In the meantime, follow check in on Steve in a variety of ways:

Steve’s Catalog on Amazon: http://goo.gl/kJpKcP

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

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

Sign Up for Steve’s Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

Home Phone: I’m not giving you that!

AM I AT THE DOORSTEP?

When I see the tears of an Olympic athlete in the medal ceremony, I get it.

I don’t think the broadcasters do.

First of all, I love the Olympics. This is an Olympic year and best of all it’s a Summer Olympics year! (I love those even more than the Winter Olympics.) I can’t say I’m a fan of how the TV coverage goes with the Olympics, though. They turn the event into a drama where each person’s grandmother having just died as they were boarding the plane to head out to the Olympic hosting city.

I just like the competition.

The idea that if you can beat your competitors at this event you are the best in the world, at that moment in time, in your chosen activity. It’s powerful to think about it in that way, but it’s true… somewhat true… at least as truthful as we could ever get (Trust me, I know there are other factors here which doesn’t make the statement “best in the world 100% absolute truth” but while you may be able to talk in theory how you could make the Olympics better, in reality this is as good as it gets right now to benchmark competition and that’s what I’m talking about today.)

The idea of being the best in the world, standing on a pedestal with your country’s national anthem playing… you representing your entire nation… “We are the best in the world at the 200m,” that’s powerful stuff.

That’s certainly a component number one to those tears you see. The media gets that.

Yes, grandma’s death as our athlete boarded the plane is the second component (or whatever tragedy has bestowed them). The media devours this aspect. As the music starts playing, the tears flowing, Jim Nance reminding us, “Her grandmother died just as Delta Flight 322 pulled back from the gate. Her final words were, ‘Win the gold Lonnie.'”

I think the biggest reason for the tears is what they don’t talk about. It’s a lifetime of preparation. It’s getting up at 3:30 every morning to start training at 4:00 a.m. It’s skipping holiday treats to stay on the program. It’s prioritizing training over normal socialization for a young person. Not being able to go out with friends and have fun… a sole purpose and focus on being the best in the world at something. That moment has arrived as the anthem is cued.

The dream is here.

The dream is now.

In my own way, I believe I am taking a large step towards realizing my dreams this coming week. On Friday, February 12, my reformatted newsletter comes out. It’s been a large focus of what I’ve been doing over the last four months.

Over these past four months I’ve been working hard behind the scenes to forge a path of “Where do I go from here?” I’ve got a fairly large catalog of work. I’ve got a decent-sized fanbase. I even have a hit on my hands with my book Bourbon Mixology which continues to sell well.

My plan to better engage my readers and social media followers starts with this edition of SAP News, my newsletter. I’m introducing what I’m calling a “magazine style” format… not in look, but content. Each issue will have original content: interviews, product tastings/demos, showcasing the talents of fellow artists, contests, free book giveaways. My old content was simply to provide an update with what was going on with my writing.

I feel like this shift in approach is going to be real big for me. It’s going to generate excitement and enthusiasm for the publication of SAP News, and in-turn, my writing.

Of course, you never know. The 200 meter race for instance, starts out with 50+ racers at the start of the Olympics. Through qualifying rounds they narrow the field to eight before the start of the final heat.

Don’t all eight, or 50+ for that matter, think it’s going to be them?

Don’t all of them presume this Olympic is going to be their moment?

Their culmination of a lifetime in training.

Their time as the best in the world?

Their final tribute to their dead NoNa?

No matter what happens on Friday, I’m good. I’ve got a whole business plan lined out for 2016 that I will adhere to whether Friday’s SAP News draws unprecedented interest in my work or it’s met with a collective yawn.

If it does generate a buzz, who knows, I might even shed a tear.

I miss you NoNa!

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Next week I’ll reveal the people who have an influence on my interview style.

In the meantime, follow check in on Steve in a variety of ways:

Steve’s Catalog on Amazon: http://goo.gl/kJpKcP

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

Sign Up for Steve’s Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Home Phone: I’m not giving you that!

UPGRADING MY NEWSLETTER

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)

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR 2016?

With Architect of Passion, the biography I am working on in a hold status until I can get some time with Greg Schredder the subject of the book, my biggest news for the week is my future plans. I really want my next project to be something totally different. I’m considering the idea of a research project focusing on updates for some of the celebrities of the 1980s.

I have no idea if it would work. After all, I’m not sure I can track down these people. Nor I am sure they would talk to me.

But…

As a person who grew up in the 80s, I have a fascination with this era and it would certainly be fun to check-in on some of the people who exploded with fame during that time and we haven’t heard from them since then. And fun is why I write so I’m at least going to give it a try.

We’ll see what happens. I’m going to give this one a shot starting in December.