Tag Archives: self-published

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.

__________________

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!

ABV Network/A Podcast Channel for Alcohol-Themed Podcastsabvnetwork.com

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

Untappd: steveakley

WHAT’S NEXT?

Have just completed a 10 part series reflecting back on my writing, I picked up the laptop this morning and wondered “Where do I go from here?”

It’s interesting that a question about what to write next for this blog is also reflective of my writing in general. Over the next several week I will be publishing 3 books. Brain Tsunami, Bourbon Mixology (volume 3) and Coffee & Holiday Mixology.

These three books represent the culmination of some really hard work. Normally, this would simply get me working on three new projects (maybe 5). With the successful launch of my Bourbon Zeppelin newsletter, and the launch of a podcast network (abvnetwork.com), I have to be much more cautious about what I am doing to ensure I don’t overextend myself.

Once these are published, I’m going to focus solely on two books. One is a collaborative piece with blogger Evan Haskill. This is more of a research piece… something you can do while watching TV. The other is a biography. I’m not saying who it is just yet, but let’s just say it’s going to appeal to my growing audience of bourbon fans.

I am excited about these two new project. I think both are going to be well received and I look forward to what the future brings.

_______________________

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

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!

ABV Network/A Podcast Channel for Alcohol-Themed Podcastsabvnetwork.com

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 10/10

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

#9 of 10 – My Social Media Friends/Collaborations

———————————–

In this post…

My Next Adventure

Wow… this is it. I’m already at number 10 and i think I could do 10 more of these. As I close out this series with this post, it’s my hope you take away how much it has meant to me to simply start writing. It all began in late December 2012, after my father passed away. I published my first book in March of 2013. It’s been nothing but a positive experience, or as this series has shown, perhaps better stated a series of positive experiences.

That leads us to one final story here. This one wasn’t in the mix when I started this series. In fact, three weeks ago it wasn’t even something I had on my radar. Yet, here I am today preparing to tell you about my next chapter in my personal brand.

It all started with the release of the July 1 edition of Bourbon Zeppelin, my “all things bourbon” newsletter. In order to increase awareness about this second issue of my start-up publication I did an interview with my social media buddy Evan Haskill for his blog The Bourbon Guy and Rye.

One of the questions Evan asked me was why do I call my book publishing company SAP Entertainment. I went into how I didn’t care about a publisher’s name when I started self-publishing my books so I just called my publisher Steve Akley Publishing (each book must have a publisher listed so as someone who self-publishes, you can create the name of a publishing company or you can just use your own name like I did). I explained that using “Steve Akley Publishing” for books written by Steve Akley can be viewed as a negative by many people who are just inherently against self-publishing. Plus, it limits what I can do with the brand. In the future. I may be helping others publish their books, or I could go into other things an individual can do on their own to build a media brand like podcasting. In fact, I had even toyed with the idea of starting a podcast or  a newsletter prior to launching Bourbon Zeppelin, but went with BZ since I know about writing newsletters and podcasting would involve learning a whole new skillset for the technical components to doing it.

So the answer was about the switch and reasoning behind it from Steve Akley Publishing to SAP Entertainment. Simply put, with SAP Entertainment (SAP being for Steve Akley Publishing) I could do more with it.

One of the people who read that interview was Seth Brown.

At that time, I really only marginally knew Seth Brown. I had interviewed him via email for my O.P.U.S. interview blog (check it out here) but I hadn’t kept up with him after the interview. I really knew him more as a contributor on another of my favorite whiskey blog… The Son of Winston Churchill blog. Seth had been buddies with Hasse Berg, the blogs creator and had recently started working with Hasse on SoWC. For those who read Bourbon Zeppelin, you probably know Hasse Berg as the Associate Editor and columnist there.

If you asked me about Seth Brown three weeks ago, here’s what I would have had for you:

  1. He is a good guy. I knew this from both his relationship from Hasse Berg as well as my interaction with him when I interviewed him for O.P.U.S.
  2. He lives in Atlanta.
  3. He is a contributor on Hasse Berg’s site.

Little did I know this good guy, Atlanta living, buddy of Hasse Berg was reading my interview with Evan Haskill. One thing not on my list of what I knew about Seth Brown was the fact he used to do a podcast. When he read my interview, he had been thinking about getting back in the game so he reached out to me via direct message on Instagram.

His note mentioned he was starting a podcasting network, with all alcohol themed shows and went into some of the details including another guy who would do a beer show. I thought he was pitching me the idea of doing a show on his network. While I mentioned in my interview I wanted to do a podcast, I really guard what I create. I’m big into creating and owning my content. Additionally, I don’t like answering to people about what I’m doing. I want the freedom and control of if I create it…it’s mine. I never factor in money, or future potential into anything I do. It may be shortsighted but for me, but I have a job. Everything I do creatively is done as a hobby, for fun, so I want to do it my own way and I want to retain ownership of that content it’s mine whether it’s a success or a failure.

Since I thought Seth was pitching me on the idea of a show on his network, it was a little grey. I wouldn’t be doing this my way… but he had the knowledge of how to do something I did want to do. Also, this wasn’t a big company where I would be their puppet. It was just a guy doing something on his own.

So, Seth’s inquiry did open up a dialogue.

We went back-and-forth for about a week before I told him I would do it. That’s when Seth said were in this thing 50/50. It’s our network. We both bring things to the table and it’s been a we have been on fast-forward ever since. Seth and I are building a podcast channel which will have shows we are doing as well as others. It’s called the ABV Network, which since it’s all alcohol-themed shows means “alcohol by volume” to the public… but behind the scenes it’s Akley Brown Ventures.

Out of the gate we will have two shows:

  1. The beer show led by Seth’s buddy Wayne.
  2. A yet-to-be-named bourbon show led by Seth and I. Best of all, we have spoken to Evan Haskill, the guy who really got all of this going, and he is going to join us on this show as the announcer and reading the news.

For Seth and I, this couldn’t be any better. I think our skills complement one another’s and there is overlap in keys areas where we need it like creativity, drive and vision. We’ve got a lot of great ideas and big plans. Hopefully, our next show after these two initial ones will be one called Bourbon Zeppelin and we’ll have all of the crew from the newsletter involved.

You can follow all of the progress by following Seth and I on social media or checking our our web page (abvnetwork.com) once it’s up and running.

Like anything I’ve done to date, I don’t know what this opportunity brings, but I do know working with Seth will be fun. If we can bring  our personal happiness to the audience, I think success will find us.

This… like everything else I have shared in this special series has only happened for one reason.

IT’S BECAUSE 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: Back to our regularly scheduled program! 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

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!

ABV Network/A Podcast Channel for Alcohol-Themed Podcastsabvnetwork.com

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

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

IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 5/10

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

———————————–

I’ve already covered four incredible things that have happened to me since I’ve been writing but I’ve got another great one today. Back when I was just getting going I was trying really hard at marketing to launch my brand. I think I’ve got a much more laid back approach now that is better suited for the indie author, but learning is a process, so I had to make some mistakes before I really figured out what I was doing.

One of the things I did was get some t-shirts made for friends and family with my website and twitter name on it. At the same time, a local reporter, Kim Hudson of Fox 2 in St. Louis had just taken over as the local interest story reporter in the morning. She announced if any business wanted to promote their brand to send in a t-shirt from their business and she would wear in for an entire mornings worth of shows (they start here at 4:00 and go to like 9:00 with news in the morning).

I sent in a t-shirt and some books along with information about my writing career.

Then…

I didn’t hear anything. I just figured an independent author wasn’t considered a business since I had seen Kim wearing shirts from local restaurants and shops.

About a month later, I’m at work one day and my Mom calls me… Kim Hudson is wearing my shirt… and she’s talking about me and my books.

Kim Hudson with my SAP Shirt On

Kim Hudson of Fox 2 in St. Louis on air wearing my shirt and holding up my Small Brand America IV: Special Beer Edition book

My Mom recorded the entire mornings worth of news so I got to see it. I guess it was kind of weird they never called first or anything, but it was incredibly cool to see such a great amount of free publicity for my work.

I did notice a small spike in sales of the beer book she spoke about after her appearance so it was really cool. Plus, you never know who gets introduced to you/your work when something like this happens.

Launching an independent writing career is difficult. In reality, this was a fleeting moment that didn’t change my life, but it was a nice early affirmation that you can make things happen if you try different things and work hard enough. It was definitely the confidence booster I needed at that time, and I can’t thank Kim Hudson enough for doing that!

_______________________

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 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

BIG B.Z. DAY

BZ Promotion Card May 1 2016

Even though technically nothing is happening with my Bourbon Zeppelin newsletter today, it’s still a big day for the project because it’s now one month until launch. It’s also the first time I will be reaching out to the 200+ industry insiders to find out if they have any content they want to share for the inaugural issue.

It’s like the project is finally coming together into something real. Talking about a concept without a tangible project is difficult. I have the vision of exactly what it is, and perhaps I should have created a full blown prototype to show people what I was doing, but I’ve elected to skip that part of the process and just talk about the plan. I believe once I have this first edition published it’s going to be much easier to get even more industry insiders involved.

“Getting people involved” on the production side of the project has been fantastic. I’ve got a crew together which should really be able to put out an interesting read. Take a look at these contributors and what they will be doing with Bourbon Zeppelin:

Mark Hansen – My buddy Mark Hansen is a graphic artist who designs all of my covers. We literally grew up together, living in the same St. Louis suburb. He gives B.Z. its identity with his custom graphics he draws for me (that’s his work in the black and white graphic above). Mark’s also one of those guys who has the ability to really break down a flavor profile by pulling out the unique tastes to it. With his skills he’s going to be doing reviews in each issue with a column titled The Bourbon Whisperer.

Amanda Hoppes – Amanda is a fellow author who will be joining the crew under the name the Bourbon Virgin to give her thoughts on tasting different bourbons for the first time. Amanda has a fun take on her reviews and is looking to expand her horizons beyond the Bud Light and Cherry Bombs she has been drinking up to this point.

Kris and Kate Kettner – Kris and Kate are a husband and wife team who run their own blog (check out: barrelsandmash.com). They are complete bourbon enthusiasts who will be answering questions asked by B.Z. readers. This questions could be anything bourbon related and they will bring a fun take to their responses I am sure.

Sarah Mitchell-Jackson (Sarah’s blog), Suzie Allkins (Suzie’s author’s page) & Lauren Elizabeth – Sarah (England), Suzie (England) and Lauren (Australia) bring an international component to B.Z. None happen to be bourbon fans but they have been able to provide some unique insight about bourbon in their respective countries.

Jerome Faulkner, G, The Bearded Sipper, Evan Haskill (Evan’s blog), Mike Swain, Carl “Los” Laehr, The Shy Associate Editor, Melissa Alexander, Alice Seim & Robin Ricca – These folks round out the contributors on the staff who will be making contributions to help make B.Z. great.

Hasse Berg (Hasse’s blog) – Finally, there’s Hasse Berg. Hasse just joined the crew recently but I’m not sure how I made it as far as I did without him. Hasse is a blogger from Denmark who writes about whiskey. He’s part of the Instagram crew I burn far too much time interacting with online.

Hasse combines three things you don’t often see packaged together…

1). He’s a hellion.

2). He’s a genius.

3). He’s hilarious.

Because he’s a genius, who is hilarious, with a background in “hellionusness” (I made that word up) he’s able to put his thoughts together in the most unique and funny ways (it truly is amazing he does all of this writing in English when his primary language is Danish…again, genius). Anyway, Hasse is going to close out every issue with Hasse Berg’s World… a stream of consciousness piece from the mind of Hasse Berg. It caps each issue with some funny thoughts which I think is going to be great.

As you can see, I’ve got an awesome crew that is going to help me put together an unbelievably great bourbon-focused publication.

Set your alarms for June 1…8:00 a.m. Eastern time/7:00 Central for issue #1 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: 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!

 

A DANDY LITTLE PROJECT

I’ve got a dandy little project I am working on… or perhaps better stated collaborating on.

I’ve shared the idea here that I wanted to write a book about my brother-in-law who had a terrible accident last August. He had a wreck on his bike and was left with no memory of what happened.

Fascinated by a now fully healthy brother-in-law with no recollection of the most traumatic incident of his life, I volunteered to fill the gaps with some stories I would publish in a book. I started to sketch out some ideas but felt like the missing component would be a different voice, a different feel for each of these misadventures.

I decided to reach out to some of the authors I have met via social media to see if they would be interested in working with me on this book I’m calling Brain Tsunami. The idea is we each start with the same beginning and ending, but write a story with no interaction or involvement from the others.

I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive responses I’ve gotten from my online friends. I mean this has been so great, I think we need to drop the “online” moniker and everything that goes with that and just say these people are my friends.

The finished project will feature myself and nine other authors writing stories about what might have happened to my brother-in-law that fateful night.

This one’s just getting started, and we’ve got plenty of work ahead but I can’t wait to bring you BRAIN TSUNAMI (the all caps and bolding really increases the impact of that, right?)

_______________________

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

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!

 

 

 

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!

_______________________

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!

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!

_______________________

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!

FACING THE DEMONS

Last week I told you I had a big day coming up. One I had been avoiding for over a month now. It was time to visit Architect of Passion, the biography I had been working on which ended up getting lost in the “flash-drive-ageddon” incident I blogged about here a few weeks back.

I’m going to take you deep into my own mind today, detailing what it was like to face something I had personally been struggling with. You may find my own this look into my brain so disturbing you may begin to question why you even follow me here and on social media. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. As a service to you, my reader, I’ve included a quick guide at the end with steps to unfollow and block me on most social media platforms.

So we begin…

I always feel like if I’m lucky enough to have you here reading my posts I don’t want to assume you know anything about what I’ve written in the past. Even if you have been a loyal reader, I’m not going to be so presumptuous that I’m just figuring you know everything that’s happened in my life to get me to this post. So even if you have read the background of what I’m about to get into, you’ve slept since then, so you might want a little bit of a refresher.

So here goes…

Architect of Passion is a biography. My first foray into this type of writing, though, I did a whole book on my own father, called Life with Akester, which included some biographical writing in it. (This was actually a hybrid, part biography, part funny stories and part about me dealing with his sudden death.)

Greg Schredder, the person I write about in Architect, is an incredible person with an unbelievable life. He’s ran in circles with some of the best known celebrities, he’s made millions, he’s lost millions, he’s on a mission to save the world (not a cliche here, I mean he really is), he’s got these great stories which easily translate into a book. I could go on-and-on. It’s even a funny story how Greg and I connected, but I will save for the book.

Getting his life story down involves me interviewing Greg for hours at-a-time on the phone (he lives in Hawaii). These are marathon with several clocking in over eight hours. In August I had taken a backup of Architect, but in September Greg and I had one of our last phone calls to go over the draft on a page-by-page basis to ensure it was presented exactly how he wanted it.

With the book now being so close to being complete, I started putting some other finishing touches on it as well. Greg had gathered all of these great photos from throughout his life. This involved a lot of digging and even going to a storage unit where he keeps his professional papers. I incorporated the photos in and then I wrote two additional sections. One was a post-script conclusion from me. There was simply the need of the “voice of the author” telling what was going on with Greg and the need to make a few points which will be better clarified in the book then here.

I also added a quick story called the Legend of La Paz which had nothing to do with the book. The book is a linear look at Greg’s career from childhood at the way to present day. As we followed Greg’s life, there would be times when we would deviate from the topic and it wouldn’t become an interview anymore, it would be simply two guys talking. It was during these times Greg would share these incredible funny stories about his fascinating life. If he was Steve Jobs and I was working on an 800-page biography I’d probably want all of these.

That’s not what this project is, and even if it was, I’d probably not be the writer to tackle this project. Greg and I had these discussions many times. He’s not that type of person, though. He’s an old-school, “my handshake is my bond” type of guy. Even though I was telling him the complete story of his is worthy of the “Steve Jobs treatment” I was his guy, the person he trusted to tell his life story, even if I was doing the condensed version.

The Legend of La Paz was just one of those fun stories which didn’t tie back to the book but gave the reader a sense for what it’s like knowing Greg Schredder. It was simply one of the many fun stories he shared.

After adding the photos, the conclusion and The Legend of La Paz, I had one of my editors go through the whole thing. She did a great job, going through it for me on a printed copy which I through away after making the edits.

The plan was then to get one last thing from Greg, a piece he wrote called “Special Acknowledgements” where he went through his whole career and simply wrote about, and thanked the people who had helped make him a success on the way. Once that was done, I would incorporate it into the story and then Greg and I would review it one last time via a proof copy of the book. I wanted to get a copy of the book into Greg’s hands since we had already been working on it for almost a year at that point.

By October, I hadn’t heard from Greg for about a month. I reached out. He was busy working on this project, like I stated earlier, which may help save the world. He would get me the info soon. In November, I heard from Greg, he said, we need to revisit the book and write a few additional chapter. He had such great things going on. If it all comes together, “I’m buying you a Cadillac” he told me.

The funny thing about Greg Schredder, that statement from him is like a signed contract approved by the Supreme Court. I have no doubt, if Greg hits it big with his latest project, one day there will be a Caddy sitting in my driveway. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but it will be there.

With all of this excitement happening, it happened.

IT!

Yes, the “it” being that flash drive which blew up in early December. I lost 98% of my files on there. There were a few odd files which weren’t affected at all. Small files like lists of ideas for future projects. Any large file, like a book, or photographs was lost, though.

Architect of Passion was the tough one. I had really wrapped up most of what I working on so I was able to recover files through Amazon of my other work. I lost everything from Architect, though, that I had done after my August update.

My response: avoid it.

For the next 5 weeks, that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t tell Greg, I didn’t open my preserved file from August. I can’t tell you why. There was just something about it that was too painful. Work which I considered complete was lost. Wiped away in a moment of my own stupidity. That file represented everything bad that happened in the loss of my flash drive.

At Christmas Greg called, emailed and sent me a card with a calendar. I sat in my shell like a frightened turtle. This past Monday my company was closed in honor of Martin Luther King Day. I circled that date as the day I was going to address it. I would reach out to Greg, I would open that dreaded file. Here’s a timeline of the day for me.

4:30 a.m. – Wake up at the usual time, even though I’m off of work.

4:30 – 5:30 – Not ready to get started on the book so it becomes time to check-in on social media

5:30 – 7:00 – Let’s not look at that file yet, after all, it’s time for a walk.

7:00 – 7:30 – Quick check back-in on social media.

7:30 – 8:00 – Hey, I was just walking, I better take a shower before I get started.

8:00 – 9:30 – Rather than getting started on Architect, let me get this quick OPUS interview with Courtney posted on tumblr and then I need to promote it a bit on social media.

9:30 – 10:00 – A quick game of hide-n-seek with Leo and a check of what’s on TV.

10:00 – I sit down to get started, but a wave of fear grips me, maybe I can “nap off” these feelings.

11:00 – Time to do this. Let’s take a look at the file. You know what? You really need to have a proper lunch to write. It’s early, but I’m off today, I’ll take a quick lunch break. “Then it begins,” I tell myself.

11:41 – I sit down at the computer and open the file. I scan through it and see everything missing. This is real. All of that work is gone.

11:42 – I walk away. (insert your own expletive here…I know I did. Use a bad one. I mean a really bad one. I know I did)

11:42 – 12:39 – Self-loathing.

12:39 – 12:53 Composed an email to Greg about what happened and sent it.

12:53 – 2:33 – Rewrote The Legend of La Paz. I may have even improved what I initially wrote, at least as I remember it.

Okay, this was going to be all right. I was in a better mood. The rest of the afternoon, I put Architect away, knowing I could take on the demon and 2016 would mark year two I would be working on this project but it’s going to be great.

I was so euphoric about getting started on rebuilding Architect, I reached out to fellow author Jenna Brownson about a potential joint project we might be working on and I wrote a post for Evan Haskill thebourbonguyandrye blog (it’s worth a read). It was a fairly productive afternoon.

Later that day, I got a message from Greg. He understood, we would have this book rise from the ashes. I had also requested the photos he had already sent but he told me he didn’t have them and we’d have to wait until he could get all of them back together.

D’oh!

I did suggest checking the sent file since he had emailed them. I’m pleased to say on Friday I got 26 emails from Greg with the photos.

Architect of Passion is on the way back, baby! Look for it later this year. I sure hope so. It’s been quite the journey!

STEVE’S QUICK GUIDE TO UNFOLLOWING AND BLOCKING HIM ON SOCIAL MEDIA

This guide is designed to assist you in taking two steps to remove Steve from your virtual life via social media: unfollowing and blocking.

Step 1

Wait a second, you are actually reading this? You were really going to examine unfollowing and blocking? I had a traumatic experience. It isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person, I agree, but it was tough nonetheless.

Guess what, you aren’t unfollowing nor or you blocking. In fact, for reading this I demand you RT something on Twitter or Like AND Comment on a photo on Instagram, you know, as a way to make up for almost senselessly removing me from your social media world.

Unfollow and block.

Ha!

I don’t think so!

________________________________

I will have to say, this blog has evolved over the last several weeks. It’s gone from a weekly 200 word post to a much more detailed account of behind the scenes of my writing. I don’t know where it will end up. I prefer the 200 word quick updates… the audience clearly prefers the detailed read. For now, I’m giving ’em what they want with these long accounts of what’s going on with my writing.

Next week we’ll take another look at OPUS. This time I’m going to share some of the funny questions I’ve been asking people and why I ask them.

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

His 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!