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My First Book - When the Dinosaurs Walked The Earth

I just released my first eBook.  It is not an Epic Adventure or Notable Work of Fiction.  There are no Pulitzers or any other type of prize in my future.  It's an eBook about topics I am comfortable with, my approach, and strategy in making money on the Internet.  I'm not an Internet Millionaire (or if I was, I would not tell you anyway).  I am not in the "Inner Circle".  I wrote a book that uses common sense, and an attainable strategy so that newbies can learn what they need, and apply what  they learn, then acquire the resources to do that.

I've been talking about writing an eBook for some time.  This is not my first stab at writing (blogging excluded).  I actually like to write, like to create tutorials, write articles, blogs, and reviews.  I've been actively doing that for years

Prior to retiring the first time ten years ago, I had pulled together all of my notes, which at the time were mostly in Lotus Notes and a companion groupware product called Quicktime, all of the manual notes I had taken, mostly on technical topics and followup items from projects that I kept in a bound journal, all of my Franklin Planners for the past five years, and dumped the notes I kept on my Blackberry.  I was an avid note taker while sitting at my desk on webinars and conference calls, so I had hundreds of MS-Word files documenting project progress, problems, and outstanding issues.   None of these could be released to the public, or for that matter, even be referenced in any publications.  The one thing I knew: I had a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips on technical topics that could be extracted and sanitized so others could benefit from some of the groundbreaking stuff we had done, without getting myself, or others in hot water.

My First Retirement

I have to explain that my retirement was more a math exercise than anything else.  After all, over 21,500 people retired on the same day back in 2003.  Needless to say, most of these retirees were folks I grew up in the business with, and in fact, many of them made up the majority of my "network" of contacts -- the smart people I depended on to help me out.  I have heard this from many others, and have said it myself, "I cannot take all the credit for what I have accomplished.  I surrounded myself with smart people who had all the brains, all the answers, and provided unwavering support to me and the rest of the team so  we could overcome the herculean obstacles in meeting the goals of our projects."  You see, when I retired, my network also retired, so the probability of me being able to maintain the level of success I had seen in the past was highly unlikely, at least until I could rebuild my network and be confident in their abilities and allegiances.

Fail: Executive Placement Recruiter

The first priority after leaving the company was to get the job search engine in high gear.  I have to admit, the outplacement service provided for free by the company was worth exactly what I paid for it.  I had gone a different route, and engaged an executive placement service that was supposedly going to cut this process short, but in the end, I wasted $13,000.  I ended up doing most of the work myself, and I'm convinced that  I got no more interviews and placement offers than if I had kept my hard-earned severance.

My Outside Business Interests

I also had other things going at the time.  For over five years before I retired, I had an real estate investment and property management firm.  I spent my weekends scouting out properties to buy and flip, resort properties to rent, and foreclosures to fix up.  The longest term property I had held was a 100 year old Victorian duplex that had been subdivided into apartments, and the outbuildings were divided into garages and storage areas I rented out.  I made money from monthly rents, and I made money when I sold the property.  All in all, a great property.

I had also done some estate work through an attorney acquaintance.  I would fix up properties where the estates were in probate, and split the profits with the estate, after out of pocket materials and labor was subtracted.  I never took title to the properties: they were done on a contract for deed.  The downside of this arrangement was that I did not get paid until the house was sold, and the estate was closed.  Sometimes I was holding quite a bit of out of pocket cash, and then, rather than being able to take payments over a period of time, I would get a windfall payment of the whole amount.  This reeked havoc with income taxes.

I was looking for other things to earn some cash to pay down the balance on the interest-only construction loans, but I was still stuck with looming balloon payments.  So, I started doing some public service lectures in the community, coordinated with the local police department outreach programs.  I actually joined my first MLM: Pre-Paid Legal.  I joined, not to recruit or sell, but to get access to the licensed materials that I could use as a basis for my new lecture series on Identity Theft.  I personally had my identity compromised three times, so with my own anecdotal material and PPL, I was able to put together a very nice program.  The local police departments, as always, were shorthanded, and welcomed the help in keeping a strong presence in the community, especially the 55+ and retirement communities, of which we had many, and they were growing in number rapidly.  I only sold one single PPL subscription (go my  inlaws, that I paid for).  I never recruited anyone into my downline.  Since senior citizens were the highest demographic targeted by identity thieves, I felt that was just wrong to capitalize on retirees on a fixed income.

I also ran some seminars and tutorials for other prospective real estate investors to get their own businesses started.  I would rent out a room at the local country club, invite 50 or so real estate newbies for lunch, and teach them how to write a business plan, how to apply for loans, how to get properly licensed and get zoning approved, and many other related small business topics.

That was the birth of MREI Consulting, the predecessor to Spaho Consulting.  By attending some of the Small Business Administration lecture programs, I got the opportunity to spend some time networking at Drexel University after the SBA lectures.  I got hooked up with some of the volunteer speakers, many of whom were college professors overwhelmed with their day jobs, that needed help working with the interested attendees from the SBA lectures who showed signs of being serious about getting started in business.

Busy But Broke

All these things were taking up plenty of time, but many of them, like the Identity Theft seminars were "Good Will" engagements.  I was networking with local police departments and politicians, collecting favors, but none of that translated into cash in my pocket.  For many of the seminars, I was barely breaking even with the cost of the rooms I rented and catering.    The construction loans for renovations on the estate properties were a drain on what was left after the executive placement carpetbaggers got done with me.  And the few small business clients I had were in the same boat: recently laid off and trying to start a business on a shoestring because unemployment was about to run out.

Articles and Message Boards

I started writing articles, sometimes as a ghost writer for other writers, and some submitting on my own.  I was writing articles for the newsletter of the local Real Estate Investment club.   I spent hour after hour on the "bulletin boards", the predecessor of forums, establishing myself as a quasi authority.  I say "quasi" because you were not considered to be part of the inner circle unless you had your OWN real estate investment program to hawk and had gotten on the national lecture circuit.   I had may of those packages in my own private collection, and would loan them out to clients who were serious about learning more.  For others who were not clients, I charged a modest fee, which was a fraction of what they would pay for the basic package, not including all the upsells.  Still, not a for-profit venture, but it did get me the opportunity to talk with some of the REI "gurus", and got me on their mailing lists.

What About All The Technical Notes?

For an unemployed guy, with no material means of support, I was awful busy.  I decided it was time to block out some time for me.  Rather than lying in the hammock drinking beer, I fashioned my "me" time to look at the pile of notes that I had accumulated before retirement.  I categorized them into different "projects", which were fairly disparate groupings of either technical topics on IT subjects, business topics on project management, re-engineering, cost savings, and emerging concepts such as the business process modifications to facilitate groupware and collaboration software environment, and several others.

One of my favorite topics was corporate cost savings.  At one point, I was part of a "swat team" for cost savings initiatives for our division.  My colleagues and I were charged with brainstorming ideas, putting out some trial balloons, and for those we could demonstrate feasibility and projected savings, do some limited trials, and eventually roll them out to the whole division.  I was the designated leader of the team, which I guess meant that I looked like I had more time on my hands than the others who were based out of New York (I was in Philly).

I had extensive notes from this project, and began to draw up a generic outline of what a book might look like.   My writing style is to gather all available notes, create an outline, and then just expand on each of the bullet points one by one, noting any crossovers and references as I went along.  My outline started out with about five pages of bullet points, and by the time I was fairly certain what I was going to do, I started to put some meat on the outline, and convert it to paragraphs.

I set aside two hours a day.  At the time, I had my office in a corner of our finished basement recreation room.   I was an early morning person, and I spent my first hour awake going through email, doing planning for my day, preparing for presentations and seminars.   I actually set an alarm on my watch.  At the end of an hour, I forced myself to shut down email, close all the other applications on my desktop, and just get down to the business of writing.

Inside of several weeks, I had the first thirty one chapters of my book ready to go.  According to my outline, I had six more chapters to finish.  Keep in mind that this was before "normal" people had ready access to the tools and channels to publish and distribute your works. I got a call from a friend of mine who had self-published his first three books, and he walked me through the process of getting a book published.  His advice was to stop right where I was at with my writing, and concentrate on learning how to seek out printers, learn how to promote my book, get graphic cover designs, and all the nuances of self publishing.

He also thought that I needed to get some eyes on my manuscript, but he wanted me to show them only the first four or five chapters.  He said to seek out some authorities in my topic area, and get them to critique my work so far (again, only the first five chapters).  The problem I ran into was that "authorities" were, in fact, my competition, and I was revealing some groundbreaking secrets that they could use.  So I used my Pre-Paid Legal subscription to have a local attorney draw up an Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).  Being unemployed, and broke, it was a stretch to come up with the attorney fees, even though, as attorney fees go, they were minuscule.

Finding authorities in that field was also a challenge.  I spent many hours, and accrued many long distance bills (yes, kiddies, this was BEFORE nationwide, free long distance -- gasp!!!). Many of those hours were spent  on hold, just trying to squeeze in for a quick call between the gaps in authority's busy days of meetings and lectures.

The Book I Never Finished

For all practical purposes, I could have done without the last five chapters of the book.  It only took a short time to tie up the loose ends, and create several versions of my summary and conclusions such that the book logically flowed.  So there is sat.  Finished but five chapters short of my outline.

I Got This Call

All this time, my wife and I were living on a shoestring.  I "worked" seven days a week, juggling real estate and property management issues, keeping up with my consulting clients, keeping active on the REI message boards, staying  active on the lecture circuit, attending networking meetings, and going on job interviews.

The phone rang at 8AM sharp one morning.  This was unusual since I rarely heard from anyone before 9AM or 10AM. Many of my contacts were in different timezones, so my day was often extended to meet at THEIR 5PM, which could have been as late as 8PM.   The call was an offer to do some freelance auditing as an independent contractor, working with a larger team performing a Sarbanes-Oxley pre-audit and consultation for a nationwide manufacturing company.  This meant several things.  I had to do an emergency braincell infusion to bone up on not only Sarbanes-Oxley (it had been several years since I got my certification), and more importantly, REALLY bone up on my financial auditing skills.  Most of my auditing had been in IT, but naturally, I had to learn all of the financial auditing skills for my certs.

So, the rest is history.   This one particular engagement was about five months long, most of it traveling, and working 90 hours a week.  At one point, including travel days, I had only one day off in six weeks.  Needless to say, I had no time, nor spare brain cells available to finish my book.  When I finally got around to catching my breath, I realized that in that short time, many of the topics and suggestions we had tried for cost savings were made obsolete by either technology or practicality.  So, the rewrite never happened.  My 32 finished chapters, and my hand-drawn ideas for cover art, were relegated to a DVD backup, and never touched again.

Rich Moyer is Managing Partner and Principal Consultant (retired) of Spaho Consulting, LLC who brings you Life Balance NetworkLife Balance Lifestyle Network, and Netpreneur Network

OK.  Now for the Shameless Self-Promotion Portion of Today's Show...

Check out my eBook.  Progressive Pathways to Success in Internet Marketing



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