Tag Archives: publishing

HOW LONG IS YOUR WRITING “TO-DO” LIST?

On Friday, I sat down and started to write down what I needed to do to get caught up with my writing over the weekend. I stopped at line 15 knowing I already had more than I could accomplish.

When you are self-published author trying to build a personal brand, it’s easy to overwhelm yourself. After all, you are doing the jobs a team would be assisting you with had you gone the traditional route.

The good news is, things are starting to pay-off for me. Hard work is getting recognized. My latest project, The Bourbon Show, which is a podcast/collaboration with Evan Haskill and Seth Brown, is really doing well. People seem to really like it both in terms of feedback received and the all-important download stats.Also, the industry is taking note. We are lining up some incredible guests for future shows.

I honestly don’t know what the endgame is with my writing/online magazine publishing/podcasting career, but I do know it’s fun. Yes, I have a list of over 15 things I need to be doing right now… and I will get to them, but I have to say everything that is going remains something I like to do.

As long as it stays that way, and I continue to work hard, I’m convinced everything else will simply fall into place.

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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: More random thoughts on my writing career.

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 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!

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The Bourbon Show on iTunes: Download it here!

The Bourbon Show on Google Play: Download it here!

The Bourbon Show on Stitcher: Download it here!

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

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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

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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!

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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 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

INTERVIEW STYLE INFLUENCERS

Right now, a lot of you are in-tune with the O.P.U.S. interviews I am doing on Tumblr. If you aren’t familiar with this series of interviews, I suggest you check them out. They are just good fun. I ask acquaintances I’ve met through social media random and funny questions.

When you read the O.P.U.S. interviews you may think these weird questions are the result of a person who simply doesn’t know what they are doing in interviewing people. Actually, that’s wrong. I know exactly what I’m doing with those interviews. I think they are not only fun, they are incredibly insightful into the true person.

In terms of my credentials, I’ll estimate I’ve done over 500 professional interviews for publication in my life. I’ve interviewed over 150 CEOs for my Small Brand America series of books which feature small companies competing against much larger, better-funded competitors. In my full-time job I write all of our sales-related newsletters, all of which incorporate interviews with sales reps out in the field to share best practices.

I would say that while I have my own style, which varies greatly by the type of interviews I do, I do draw from three professionals… Bob Costas, Howard Stern and Marc Maron. These three are each perfection in very different ways.

First, Bob Costas. He’s the ultimate in preparation. I realize he’s probably got a staff that does all of the research, but to Bob’s credit he devours what they find. His preparation in taking all of that research in and then not even needing cue cards to retain what someone did in the third grade is amazing. I have to say, out of the three here, my style is least like Bob’s in that I’ve always kind of shied away from research. I like the idea of going in fresh and not taking a look at what others have done before me. This isn’t because I don’t think there is merit to doing this, it’s just that I know I can’t do it as well as Bob so I like the discovery what’s unique about a person in by asking probing questions. I do try to connect with a person like Bob does which really does help them open up.

Second is Howard Stern. Man, this guy is divisive. Many people automatically hate him and perhaps rightfully so. I’ve always had a sophomoric sense of humor so I have to say I’ve always like Howard. The good news is I have matured as I’ve gotten older and so has Howard. His show isn’t what it once was, but that’s not to say all elements of offensive material have been removed.

Even if you can’t get over the goofy stuff, you should hear his interviews. Howard isn’t confined by time constraints so when he talks to someone it’s a free form discussions that really helps you get to know the person. I hate talk show interviews with their 4 minute format designed more to pitch a movie than learn anything about the person. A 90 minute interview with Howard and you walk away really knowing the true person beyond the public persona.

Perfection!

The last person I like to hear conducting interviews is Marc Maron. If you aren’t into podcasts, you might not know Marc but he has a podcast entitled WTF. Now, by the name alone you may think he’s another Howard Stern… he’s not. I will say he’s a bit of a cantankerous old guy who probably likes the shock value of calling his program WTF, but if you get beyond the first minute where he’s kicking off the show, his interviews are unbelievable. I would say what makes Marc great is the fact this guy, you presume is a grumpy old man based on the show intro, is just so smooth in the interviews. It truly is conversation. What I also like is he comes at it from a fan’s perspective. If I was interviewing the stars he gets (Marc gets everyone by the way, Barack Obama recently was on), I would handle it in the exact same way.

One of the aspects I didn’t like at first, was the fact he just riffs for like the first 10 minutes before he starts talking to a guest. I used to wonder why he did it… now I love it. His approach to the show is exactly what I would want to do someday. The guy is just the best.

Those are the three main influencers for me when it comes to interviewing. I’m no where near any of these three gentleman in terms of success, or style, but I’m going to keep practicing.

Check out those O.P.U.S. interviews and see if you can see the influence of these three!

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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 Next Week: I have no idea what I’m writing about next week, but it will be something.

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!

THE EPIC TREATMENT OF OPUS

Recently, I started a new endeavor over on Tumblr which is part blog, part social experiment and part self-therapy. I’ll touch on all of this in what I’ve titled the EPIC TREATMENT OF OPUS because I’m really covering everything there is to know about this fun new adventure.

One of the biggest challenges I face and an independent author is the fact the only way someone is going to ever hear about my work is if they hear it from me. This can directly through interaction with me, or perhaps via another person I have been in contact with. There is no publishing house behind me. No literary agent getting my name out there. I don’t have a P.R. person releasing statements about me. It’s all me.

This is one of those unique situations which become exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. It’s exhausting because it’s hard. Even if you “touch a person” (get your message directly to them), often they still won’t read anything you’ve written simply because they haven’t ever read anything you’ve written.

That’s a conundrum, right?

So where does the exhilarating quotient come in? Well, I have to tell you, every time your author’s page on the vendors you sell your books through adds another tic mark in the sold column, it’s exciting. It truly never gets old. I went to bed last night around midnight, got up at 4:18, the first thing I checked online was those author pages. Two books sold… while I was sleeping. Somehow I sold those two books. Maybe it was a post on social media which got someone interested. Maybe it was a great title capturing the imagination of a couple of buyers. Perhaps it was an awesome write up in the description. Who know? Let’s not forget I was sleeping when this happened. Imagine how many I’ll sell today while I’m awake and productive!

This all leads to how I got started with OPUS. I was looking for a new way to reach people. I wanted to try yet another platform to accomplish this. In the last three years when I started writing, I’ve gone from never having been involved in social media at all to systematically getting involved in Twitter, Facebook, Word Press, Mail Chimp, Instagram and now Tumblr.

My “new” idea was actually an old one for me. I’m a believer in a couple of things:

1). I like meeting new people. All kinds of people. People who share my interests and people who don’t. I want to talk to everyone. Can’t you learn more from people who don’t share your common interests anyway than those who do?

This leads directly to my second point…

2). All people are interesting. It’s true. A lot of people love celebrity gossip. Not me. I want to know the personal story of the person who just put three heartbreak symbols on Twitter. I want to talk to the person who runs the Instagram account which only has wedding photos, yet likes every photo I post, even though I have nothing about weddings. If I could talk to these people, then I want to know everything. What do they do for a living? What TV shows do they watch? When they decorate for Christmas, do they just do a tree and a few items here and there, or do they go all out? If they don’t celebrate Christmas, can they tell me about the traditions of their beliefs?

It just doesn’t stop. It’s just how I think.

The idea for OPUS sprouted from this natural curiosity I have. I knew I was going to do something like this and I was toying with “ordinary people and their stories.” Then it came to me, “Ordinary People, Unusual Stories” or OPUS. According to Google’s online dictionary, one of the definitions of the word opus is, “Any artistic work, especially on a large scale.”

Perfection.

It should be noted, I truly love the idea of meeting new people and it’s not the first time I’ve tried to do something like this. Two times in the last 10 years (before I even started writing books) I wrote to this local rag of a newspaper we have asking if they wanted a guy to write for them who saw interesting things around town and approached the individuals for an interview. For instance, there used to be a person who lived near me who had a giant Statue of Liberty replica in their front yard. Huge. Like 20 feet tall.

Where they transplanted New Yorkers?

French nationals?

Simply patriotic?

I don’t know. Sadly, I’ll never know. The newspaper never bothered responding. I even took one last shot at this when I started writing. Right here. Yes, I mean literally. On this screen on which you are reading right now was to be a blog called St. Louis Neighbors. I was going to take my newspaper idea and just produce it myself. There was a little bit of a weird vibe going with approaching people, without the credential of being with a local newspaper though. Knocking on someone’s door and saying, “Hi, I’m Steve, your house is cool and I want to write a blog.” I’m thinking I’m getting like 2% saying yes, 50% never opening the door, 45% slamming the door in my face and the final 3% calling 9-11.

My idea to overcome this was a beautiful letter. Explaining how I was just starting writing and wanted to organically grow readers, how I was interested in talking to them. etc. blah blah, Sincerely, Steve Akley. Kissy face. Second kissy face and then closed with a heart symbol.

Okay, no kissy faces or heart symbols, but I did compose a letter lining out what I wanted to do and why I had contacted them. Man, I went all out. I took the 20 most interesting houses I could find in the greater Oakville area. I had that one house that looks like the Brady Bunch house. I had the Portland House, where it looked like the place was just dropped from Oregon including the bees in the backyard. I locked-in on the one place where the guy is trying to build a gothic castle. Clearly, the woman who is trying to recreate a Victorian-era mansion, complete with gardens would want to be featured, right?

Anyway, I found 20 great places. I sent out 20 letters.

My responses: 0.

Maybe I shoulda done the kissy faces and hearts.

With that dream officially shattered, I changed the name of this blog to Write Steve Write! and started blogging weekly about my writing.

1,070 words and I’m not even to the details of OPUS yet. I told you this one was EPIC.

So I came back to my idea of getting to know strangers with the launch of OPUS on Tumblr. My goal with this new vehicle is to get to know people on a very informal basis. I ask them questions, most would probably only ask if they had known people for a very long time. Nothing too intrusive, or inappropriate mind you, just fun little scenarios.

I think it really gives greater insight into the person than some more conventional line of questions. I feel like I really know the person when they participate in these brief Q&A sessions.

You may wonder how I find the people I feature. It’s all through social media. I can’t say I’ve written down rules for finding people, but I do have some unwritten guiding principles I use.

1). They must be connected to me on social media. I don’t attempt to reach outside of my personal groups to find anyone.

2). The person has to be over 21. Again, none of the question ever have, nor ever will be inappropriate in nature. It’s just something doesn’t feel right about inquiring anyone below 21. I’ve got an 18 year old daughter. If I came home one day and she was typing on the couch and I asked her what she was doing and she responded by saying, “I’m doing an interview for some guy on Twitter,” I’m not thinking I’m like that as a father. Well, I treat individuals with the same respect and courtesy I would want afforded to my own daughter, so no one under 21 (since I don’t know these individuals if I can’t tell, I simply don’t ask).

3). They have to be interesting. The people who share the dumb lists on Twitter don’t interest me. You know the “click bait” with dumb titles, like 20 Greatest Celebrity Asses, Number 4 is a Real Shocker. This doesn’t interest me. In fact, I just mute as many of those as I can.

4). Finally, they have to be nice. The underlying message to the OPUS blog is there are great people out there. Everyone is jaded about people on the internet. I don’t want everyone to totally let their guard down as there clearly are bad people out there, but don’t lock out everyone. There are great people out there. I’m just getting started with OPUS and I have to tell you, it’s mind blowing. People are genuinely nice and willing to help out.

Of course, this leads to the discussion of, “What’s it like reaching out to strangers?”

Kind of like marketing your work as an author, it’s exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I don’t ever want to anger anyone. I’m just trying to meet some new people and introduce a new audience to my work. Besides the potential to anger people, I realize there are also two other potential scenarios I’m not fond of either. The first being is what is this guy’s true motive? Is he trying to swindle me in some way? The other being worse even than that, is he a creep?

I had this great exchange with Lauren Elizabeth on Instagram this week (she said I could use her name on here by the way). She’s actually going to be in upcoming OPUS interview. As I approached her to be in my OPUS blog, she talked about the number of guys who contact her innocently enough at first, then it quickly transitions to send me some nude shots or “let’s meet.”

Lauren

Lauren Elizabeth in front of my personal favorite of her photos, “The Camel Selfie”

It turns out Lauren is a hobbyist photographer who travels all over the globe, both for work as well as personal travel. Another passion of mine is art. I’m a big fan of painters, sculptors and photographers. In addition to the final product of the art they create, it never ceases to amaze me how these individuals see things just a little differently. Photographers like Lauren have this unique ability to look through their eyes in a different manner than the rest of us to capture what’s interesting in the moment.

Sample of Lauren's Work

Sample of Lauren’s work. Does this stuff not look like it belongs in National Geographic?

What I love, love, love about Lauren’s work is the fact she writes the story of her pictures. Not in some sort of stiff clinical manner you might see in a text book, but instead, from a human perspective, telling you what she was doing that day. What was going well, what wasn’t. What was funny about the day.

It’s literally a look at what I find so fascinating. How does Lauren see things differently than I do? How can she grab these great shots when I never would, even if we were in the same place at the same time?

That’s a person I want to get to know. Hello… OPUS!

Do you not want to know Lauren, and people like her, too? OPUS.

I do think it provides the new blog of mine has the potential to provide a service. I mean Lauren who spoke so openly about how many people she just ignores because of the issues she’s had. Luckily, we had been connected early on for both of us in Instagram (I looked it up, she was my 10th follower), she felt comfortable responding to my request. I’m thinking she might be more apt to engage with someone if they read about her on OPUS because their interest in her would likely come from what was interesting about her from the interview. She could connect to some nice people and not just those seeking something a little more illicit.

A connection like that delivers everything I could have ever wanted from this project and much more. I feel like I’m a better rounded person from expanding my connections and relationships beyond the circle of people I have simply just always known.

Not everyone says yes to my requests. I get a few nos and I’m okay with that. I don’t want anyone to get interviewed if they are uncomfortable in doing so. Those that have said no have been very polite and we’ve left it on good terms.

The ones I don’t like have been no response at all. I just feel bad. Have I intruded on their personal time? Do they think I’m a weirdo?

While I’m having an incredible amount of fun doing this so far, I realize their is a shelf-life for everything. In fact, for some reason it hit me yesterday. 100. I’m retiring the OPUS concept with 100 interviews.

Don’t worry, I’m only five into this social experiment. Even though it won’t go on forever, there’s still plenty of time to meet new people, make new friends and maybe one day you’ll be getting an incredibly polite request from me to appear in an upcoming interview.

It’s legit.

I’m not a weirdo.

No kissy faces or heart symbols will be included.

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OPUS can be found at: steveakley.tumblr.com

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Thanks to all for reaching out to me about the loss of all of my files with the corrupted flash drive last week. There wasn’t one negative Tweet or direct message. In fact, nothing but kindness.

I am humbled and honored to have such support come my way.

Next week in Write Steve Write! I face the demons of this traumatic experience by finally opening up my Architect of Passion book, the only file I completely lost. I have a saved version, but it was done before 8+ hours of changes with the subject of the book, a deep revision by an editor and the creation of several new chapters. I’ve been dreading opening up the file and trying to get it back where it was before the tech crash. I’m off work on Monday, it’s all I’m doing.

I’ll write about that experience here next week!

 

 

 

 

#amNOTwriting

A couple of popular hashtags I see many authors using are #amwriting or #Iamwriting. I too would like to be hashtagging the fact I am writing, but, unfortunately, that would be #lying.

I’m in the middle of two big newsletter projects and planning on four books to follow up my big hit in Bourbon Mixology this holiday season (still ranked #4 for bourbon in books as of today by the way). That means I am researching, or perhaps better stated #Iamresearching to keep with the theme of this post.

My four upcoming books involve getting bars to share their a signature cocktail, so it becomes a matter of not only finding the right bars for the books, but getting them to commit. Getting them to commit actually comes later. I’m still in scouring the internet looking for the perfect places to extend an invitation to.

My two newsletters (one is a reworking of my current newsletter about my writing and a second, still unannounced project) also are very research labor intensive right now. I’m looking for potential sponsors and content contributors. It’s an arduous process which I have no idea how successsful it will be.

I’m on vacation from work so that’s what I’ve been doing full-time the last week and this balance of this one.

All of this hard work should payoff with a great month of #amwriting coming in January!

 

Side Note: This is my last post of 2015. I hope everyone has a fun, and safe, New Year’s. I’m kicking off 2016 with a two-part post detailing the ups-and-downs of 2015 with my writing. 2015 was an incredible year for me. In fact, when I look back 20 years from now, it will be the year in which I transitioned from this crazy pell-mell freestyle to very focused with a clear roadmap to success with my writing. There was one incident, though… one I haven’t even shared here which made me really question whether or not I would continue writing at all. It’s just been too painful to talk about.  

You will have to wait for that one, though. Look for it, right here in Write Steve Write next year!

 

MEET PA’U HANA

Pau Hana Digital Cover

Click on the cover of Pa’u Hana to go to Amazon to purchase it!

It was a big writing week for me. My book, Pa’u Hana was published. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to publish your first novel.

I also got Bourbon Mixology online in a Kindle version and an iBooks edition should be out there soon as well. Click here to see the Kindle edition.

The other big news is I’m going to overhaul my newsletter in 2016. Not only will I be moving from a quarterly publication schedule to an every-other-month format I’m going to add some new content. Look for the final newsletter to go out under the old format on December 1 and the new look newsletter to start on February 1, 2016. If you would like to receive my newsletter directly to your email, click here.

Next week I’ll give you an update on Architect of Passion, the other project I’ve been working on.

SLIGHTLY TERRIFYING…

I’m preparing to face something completely different in my writing career very soon, and it’s more than a little daunting…

One of the projects I’ve been writing about on this blog is entitled, Architect of Passion. It’s a biography of Kaua’i businessman Greg Schredder. The first draft of the book is complete and I’m in the process of going through the first round of editing.

Once the first round is complete, I’m going to send a copy to Greg for him to review.

Whoa!

Think about it. I’m going to send a book to a person about that person’s life. I mean it’s his life! He’s been involved in it for well… his entire life!

I, on the other hand, have only known Greg Schredder through a series of phone interviews over the last few months. How can I possibly encapsulate everything he’s done and accomplished over the course of his personal and professional life in 100 pages?

Well, from my perspective, the work is solid and we’ve collaborated to make a great book. It flows. It tells a story and relies on the facts. It hits the highlights and really provides great insight on what makes Greg Schredder.

Still, there is this deep-seeded fear of “What if he doesn’t like it?”

I mean I know we can fix anything in terms of writing, but really all I want him to be is proud of the work. I want to introduce people to Greg Schredder and, yes, I want to sell books, but those goals really pale to the biggest questions hanging out there…

Will he like it?

I guess I’ll know the answer to that one pretty soon!