The Myths of Self-Publishing

Before you go out and try to publish your first book there are few things that you should know. This shit is hard. There are people who will try to sell you things with adds that say they guarantee sales and that you will be able to leave your job in no time. My advice, do your homework. I came across an article about a self-publishing school that will teach you how to have a best seller. There were examples of how a college dropout became rich and now has several bestselling books on places like amazon. Curious, I went to amazon and looked up this man’s books. All of the titles were the same thing, how to become a best-selling author, how to become a successful author, how to make money writing short books, and the list went on and on. He didn’t write the great American novel, or go through the pain of writing a dozen novels in the hopes that one of them would take off, propelling him to stardom. He wrote a book on how to write a book about writing books.
Self-publishing has become a cesspool of predatory scammers who prey on the hopes and dreams of people that want a different life, taking their money with no guarantee of a return. If their system doesn’t work then you must have done something wrong. We have seen this before, the companies that would print your books but you have to sell them and put the work in. While you have boxes of books you were talked into buying, they have your money and eventually the books, like your dreams, rot away.
Sure, there is success. The people who put in the time, the ones that figured out how to build a fan base through other means. There are YouTube stars that are best selling authors now. Podcast host plug their book to an audience they built up over years. There is even a self-publishing podcast with two host, one traditional author and a new indie author that is still working on his first book, that explain how to be a successful author. The catch is the indie author will be a success, he built his fan base over several years and they will buy his book. They plug ideas about spending ungodly amounts of money on advertising, plugging sites you have to pay for to have your book seen, in the meantime the real selling point is the podcast itself.
Either road you take will be hard. You can spend years trying to find an agent or go the self-publishing route finding disappointment with only one or two readers here or there for your books, hi mom. In the meantime, watch out for the scam artist who make promises and try to make you think things are easier than they are.
There was a podcast I used to listen to. The woman had guests on that had become successful in self-publishing and over the years she learned, like her listeners, how to promote books and make a living at self-publishing. I had a conversation with her during a time she was trying to figure out how to monetize her podcast. I said the best way for her to sell a course on self-publishing was to do the work herself. Have a product that shows the process works. She stated that it was too hard, she already tried it and didn’t want to write another book only to be disappointed. Welcome to the world of the writer. Don’t try to sell something that you are unwilling to do yourself. I stopped listening to the show and it went through a renaming, podcasting overhaul, and as far as I know it no longer exist.
Everyone is jumping on this band wagon these days and having your book seen is even harder with a flood of people promised riches while unable to figure out how their world changing vampire manga serial killer romantic thriller isn’t being optioned by every studio on the planet. Here is a lesson for you, write your book for you, edit so that somebody else can read it, and in the end let the readers decide if it’s something they like. In the meantime, work on your next book. Most of the titles you will find on amazon are the only books that person wrote, leaving after their hopes were dashed with nobody lining up to buy it. Your competition is literally a bunch of losers that gave up. If you want to stand out keep on working.
I had some success with one of my first books. I made some money and kept writing. Since then nothing has happened. I have 18 books on amazon and while the majority of them remain unread I keep writing, not for the money or the hopes of becoming the next Hemingway, but because I enjoy it. If you think this is an easy way out of your current situation then get out now, go to Wallstreet, the writing world is not for you. Stay away from the money hungry leeches on the web and hang out with real like-minded people to keep going. Save your money because in this industry everyone is out to take the little that you have.

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Jordan Peterson solves the Twitter problem

Appropriately enough, Jordan Peterson announced on Twitter that he is backing the formation of a new platform called Thinkspot. There are several hopes and purposes for this platform, providing a town forum where people can comment and have conversations without the threat of being banned or kicked off, and a new payment system to replace Patreon after they started banning creators due to public outcry. The internet is still the wild west and Peterson just started a new town with its own rules and a new sheriff. Criticism has already started to flood in through various news outlets claiming that Peterson will be shadow banning users from having their comments seen in threads. What they fail to see is that this policy solves the Twitter problem. Twitter will remove a person from their platform completely if comments are made that violate their policies, however policies are always changing and they are not uniformly enforced across the platform. Thinkspot has two things going for it that take this kind of policing out of the equation. Users will have to pay to participate, that alone will eliminate many trolls from using the site. Comments will be voted on by other members as to their importance in the conversation. If you have more likes you move up to the top of the thread, if you have move dislikes you move down likely never to be seen. People paying for a site will have an interest to have less of their time spent reading trolling comments and want more content in line with what the conversation is about. To survive on the site like this, trolls will either have to be creative and funny or have a valid point that other people will recognize. Posting comments like “your mom should have swallowed” will likely disappear and the thrill of being a douchebag on the internet will disappear on this site.
People I know have compared Thinkspot to Reddit but I have a feeling that the subjects discussed will be more concentrated on certain subjects as opposed to having everything under the sun discussed. In a sense Thinkspot might have brought democracy to the internet. It acknowledges that not every voice is equal, especially if someone is speaking without any substance behind their words, and the public can choose as to who is able to be heard more. This could literally be the opposite of our current news channels where the person who brings in ratings has more airtime. The users have a hand in filtering comments and therefore have a better experience online without needing to shuffle through garbage to find a gem.
I hope that more sites like this are created in the future, I can’t imagine that they won’t. even with Donald trump being the poster boy of Twitter the company has failed to make a profit in the last three years. Facebook might want to lookout as well. They haven’t made any friends with their policies over the past three years and with their involvement in the last election its not difficult to see why. I can’t see the Kremlin investing in infiltrating a site like Thinkspot only to have their content shuffled to the bottom of the feed and never seen.
The big question is whether or not people will be willing to pay to use a site like this. I am already on the waiting list and hope to have an invite to the beta version. If Facebook and Twitter have no interest in fixing their sites its nice to see that an alternative is on the way. Welcome to the new town of the Dark web. Read a book, have something to say, or your voice will not matter.

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Let the shootings begin

The same year I moved into my house there was a series of fatal shootings across the city. I was looking for a new job in the hospital because my hours had gone to shit and I wanted something different. The nurses on my old unit were complete bitches that had nothing better to do than start rumors and enact draconian rules on the cleaning staff letting us know we were not like them. One of the unit clerks, a young black girl named Kesha, was pregnant and we would have lunch together because we didn’t want to be stuck with the wenches on the floor. Soon I was declared the baby daddy even though I knew the father and worked with him for over a year at the hospital. The staff knew this too but a white guy and a black girl eating lunch and talking can only mean one thing…
I wasn’t in my house long before I learned how rowdy the neighborhood can get. There were fist fights, stabbings, windows being broken, and open prostitution on the corner. My wife and I had met a couple from the street over and were enjoying some drinks in the back yard when we heard the gunshots. Craig and I went out front to check it out and saw two girls and a guy walking in front of the house. Then the girl in the middle fell to the pavement and they picked her up carrying her to a house. We would learn later that the girl had been shot, by accident. A car from the north side of town had driven through the southside and a guy standing on the corner took notice. He pulled his gun and shot at the car as it drove by, missing the car completely but hitting the girl half a block down walking home from school. The girl lived and a few days later the shooter was found in hiding in the town of Galesburg, a white community that bragged about shagging sheep and who’s sister was the hottest. It was the perfect town for a young black man to hide in. the girl who was shot would later go on TV and declare that she forgave the shooter because he didn’t mean to shoot her and that it was an accident.
A week or two later another shooting happened, this time on Reed St. there was a birthday party happening and while the celebration was taking place in the backyard, the birthday boy sat at a picnic table enjoying the food and company when two young men walked up behind him and shot him in the back of the head. The body was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The back of his skull had been blown wide open and there was zero chance of saving him. The people working the ER at the time were John and Cassie. The family had arrived to the ER and were demanding to view the body. The staff tried to tell them “you don’t want to see him like this” but after hearing “fuck you” a few times the staff changed their minds. Some of the nurses went into the room and started cleaning things up to make it ore presentable and John was asked if he could help with the clean-up. The pool of blood on the floor was the biggest concern. John went in with a mop and started removing the blood. The cords to the EKG machine and pulse Ox got in the way and John bumped the stretcher. Something heavy hit his foot and when he looked down there was the sight of a human brain resting on his shoe. The scream that followed was described as that “of a girl” and one of the nurses turned around to see John throwing the mop and unable to move. “get it off, get it off, get it off.” The nurse ran over and soccer kicked the brain off John’s shoe and watched him leap out of the room yelling “I’m done, I’m done, I’m done.” He left the ER and went straight to the supervisor’s office to tell them to put him somewhere else. That was how I ended up working the ER.
I took the job on second shift and left the General Medical Unit. The hours weren’t the best but I figured the ER staff were too busy to be bitches. This place was a whole new ball game. It was fast paced. You didn’t get a lunch and had to snack when you could. I quickly learned that the city had more shootings in a week than were reported on the news. Between the patients and the staff there was always entertainment. To work in an ER is to have a reckless personality and a need for adrenaline. Partying was a way of life and the same people who referred to bikers as organ donors also rode motorcycles in their spare time. There was a desire for adventure and everyone, married or not, was fair game. This would be my home for the next couple of years.

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The rumble in the jungle

I got into the habit of paintballing cars that drove by my house with loud stereo systems blaring. If my windows shook, you got a new paintjob. It wasn’t difficult to time the shots with the bass and nobody ever noticed as they sat at the stop sign trying to figure out where to cruise next.
Spring was here again and the cars were out loosening the foundation of every house they drove past and I sat on the porch with a pump action paintball gun waiting for my next victim. A 1980s Chevy Oldsmobile drove past and sat at the stop sign for a few minutes. The back of the car was covered in green paint that stood out with the beige color of the car. Once I was out of paintballs the stereo was turned off and I wondered if they had heard the thuds of the paintballs. The car turned the corner and stopped on the intersecting street in full view of my house. I sat and waited. Was I finally caught? Was this going to turn into a street fight?
The guy stepped out of the car and went to a house where he was greeted on the porch and hung out for thirty minutes. When he went back to his car, he walked around the back admiring his vehicle until he saw the new green paint that had been added.
“What the fuck!” he yelled as he tried to wipe off the dry paint that had sat there too long. “Oh hell no, some motherfucker paintballed my car. Motherfucker! I know who did this. I’m going to get that motherfucker.” The man jumped in his car and sped off down the street. I grabbed more paintballs from inside the house and waited for the next car.
A few days later there were sirens and flashing lights reflecting through the neighborhood. One street over smoke ascended into the air as a fire raged at 6 am. I learned later from some neighbors that a car had been firebombed and the whole thing was a loss. It looked like something you would see in Somalia or after a riot. The next week things became even more crazy.
The beige car was back with new chrome rims and the green paint was gone. It parked in the same spot as before and I sat on the porch reading a book. An hour later all hell broke loose. A different man, tall and skinny wearing a black wife beater, walked over to the car screaming all kinds of incoherent gibberish, and proceeded to smash out the windows, headlights, tail lights, he kicked in the doors and jumped on the hood. The grill was ripped out by his bare hands. When the police finally arrived, he was trying to tear the rims off the car.
The police stepped out and walked towards the man. “having a bad day?” and officer asked.
“bad day? Am I having a motherfuckin bad day? Ya I’m having a bad day.”
“Is this your car?”
“Hell no, it ain’t my car.”
“Whose car is it?”
“This motherfucker shoots up my momma’s house. So, I shoot up his fuckin house. Then he comes over and sets my motherfuckin car on fire. He burned my fucking car so I’m fucking his shit up.”
“where is he at?”
“he went out with some other guys to buy beer.”
“You think he’s going to be pissed when he gets back?”
“Fuck ya!”
They talk for a few more minutes. I have to give the cops credit, they just talked to the guy. He committed some felonies; the other guys committed some felonies. I guess the question was, who do you arrest in a situation like this. The cops left. They didn’t arrest the guy. They had to wait and see if the other guy wanted to press charges. Odds were he wasn’t going to call. The guy in the wife beater left and I continued to sit on the porch and wait for the next chapter of the story to unfold. This was like watch Days of our lives on crack.
A hour later, with the car sitting on the side of the street in pieces the group of guys came back to the party with their drinks.
“What the FUCK!” and the rumble in the jungle continued.

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Memorial Day

Certain holidays never held any importance to me. This isn’t out of some disrespect or apathy for the reasons they exist, it has more to do with the fact that for most of my life these celebrated three-day weekends always ended up with me going into work and getting time and a half while being partially staffed. Let’s not think that I don’t care about people who died in combat or that I have some kind of disrespect for the labor movement although I will say the crappy healthcare and meager pay, I received most of my life shouldn’t be celebrated. Where are these fighters for the common man now? Thanks for the weekend but I work most of those as well.
One of the first Memorial Days I enjoyed as a day off came a few years back when I was living my myself in my house in the ghetto. The smell of barbeque was in the air and the music was loud with windows vibrating as cars drove by and fireworks (gunshots) could be heard in the distance. This was a normal Friday night/ Saturday in the hood except it was taking place on a Monday. I was enjoying myself by either hanging out inside or sitting on the porch reading whatever book had my interest at the time.
Around noon I heard the sound of sirens a few blocks over and didn’t think anything of it. This was a common thing in the neighborhood and to not hear sirens would leave one to worry that something was happening and nobody was responding to it. Something was always happening.
An hour later I could hear a small group of guys coming around the corner from Haye’s Park and this usually meant there was going to be trouble. They were yelling things to draw attention from the neighborhood and when they appeared there were three guys and two girls walking behind them.
“These Niggas think they going to talk shit in our hood. Chicago muthafuckas don’t know who they are messing with. We gonna show these niggas what’s up!” It was the tiny guy in the middle who was doing all the talking.
Next door a party had been going on all day. The house was rented to one woman who was middle aged and back in school. A few weeks before I watch a guy leave her house during a similar party and stash something under my porch. He left and later came back looking around puzzled that the laptop I had found was gone. The next day I knocked on the door and the woman answered. She looked intimidated at the bald white guy standing on her porch. I asked about a laptop and she ran from the door upstairs and came back a minute later screaming somebody had stolen it. I went back home and brought the laptop over with the power cord that was stashed with it. Everything still worked and I suggested being picky about the people she had over. Of course, it wasn’t her fault it must have been a friend of a friend. I described the guy and she was pissed; it was her nephew. I let her know that I had lived in the neighborhood for a while and if anyone tried stuff like that at my house they were being buried in the backyard. After that comment, there were eyes watching me every time I was out back picking tomatoes and planting herbs.
I watched the guys stand out in the street and yelled at the house with a group of guys on the porch talking back. Women stood in the yard rushing the kids inside the house. After a minute the guys in the street pulled their guns. There was a submachine gun, something you might see from a WWII film, a Berretta 9mm with an extended magazine, and the third pistol being aimed at the house. There must have been 10 kids inside the house and I hoped they were in the basement. I rushed to find my phone and had trouble dialing 911. The operator answered and told them there was a group of guys in the street in front of my neighbor’s house with guns drawn. There were kids in the house. I gave descriptions of the individuals and told them about the girls standing in the street with them.
“Are you sure the Berretta has an extended magazine?” dispatch asked.
“Yes, it’s sticking out like a foot under the handle. Where are you guys? These people are going to be killed.”
‘We are on our way. Keep an eye on them but stay safe.”
I stayed on the line and with the guys on the porch not saying a word as they had guns aimed at them the men in the street had decided that they made their point. They walked down the street, turned the corner and disappeared. The police arrived 15 minutes later.
By this time the women in the house were packing up their cars and going back to Chicago, the safer city. “These mother fuckers are crazy over here. What the fuck was that. Why are you mother fuckers talking shit to these crazy people. You ain’t bad ass. You don’t have no gun. We’re getting the fuck out of here.” The guys didn’t talk to the cops but the women threw in their own two cents.
“Do you know the guys who pulled the guns on you?” an officer asked.
The man on the porch stayed silent.
“Ya he knows them. Starting shit and bringing it to my house. What the fuck did you think was going to happen?” she said tossed an arm full of clothes into the trunk of her car.
“You realize these men fit the description of the men who killed a 13-year-old boy two blocks over an hour ago?” the officer was making a point that they should be dead.
The man stayed silent and the women hurried up loading their cars and putting their kids inside. In less than an hour they had packed up and were heading back to Chicago.
“What am I supposed to do?” the man said as the woman walked to the car with her keys.
“Get a job, stop thinking you’re a thug you freeloading bitch!” she hopped into the car and drove away. The guys stood on the front lawn with no house, no cars, and no balls. This was the fastest I had ever seen anyone move out of a house.
The street was quiet. The party was over. I sat on the porch and relaxed as I watched the same three guys walk around the corner looking at my neighbor’s house from across the street. I pulled my phone out and dialed 911. I went inside and acted like I had just received a call.
“The guys who pulled guns on Clinton are back.” I told the dispatcher.
“Are you sure it’s the same men?”
“They are wearing the same clothes. The girls aren’t with them, but it’s them. They are watching the house across the street.”
“Do you see any weapons? Do they have the guns?”
“I don’t see any.”
“Can you find out?”
“I’m not going to ask them!”
“We are on our way.”
I rolled my eyes and continued giving updates as to where they were. Once they reached the intersection down the street police cars swarmed in and guns were drawn. The guys looked around surprised and were quickly cuffed and put into the back of squad cars.
It turned out they were the men that had gunned down a 13-year-old who was “talking shit” and when these guys pulled guns on the neighbor most of the police force was two blocks away securing a crime scene. The guns were found at a friend’s house, dropped off after the showdown. My nerves were shot, adrenaline was starting to subside and I found myself passing out on the couch in the middle of the afternoon. I almost watched a house filled with people be massacred over two groups of guys measuring their dicks. One person died that day, he was referred to as a good kid and didn’t deserve what had happened. A day later the public learned that he had been kicked out of school, was shot a week before during an altercation and this time the job was done right. There is a life lesson here, if you are doing something that got you shot maybe you shouldn’t do that thing again.
The house next door stayed empty for a while. The rest of the summer was quiet, no that’s a lie, who am I kidding, it was a non-stop shit show of ghetto fabulousness. That was the start of the summer and I hadn’t seen anything yet.

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