I learned early on that one should never stick up for friends. I went to a school we affectionately called Saint Monkey’s Penitentiary. In third grade all hell broke loose when a new kid arrived who was advanced a grade. His name was Nikki and he was my friend. He was smaller than most kids and the fact that he was smarter was a danger to those who needed to be top dog. In a prep school grades also went along with sports in the popularity game. On the playground Nikki and I would runaround, play on the merry go round and crawl through the concrete tunnels pretending god only knows what. Everyday a group of kids would surround Nikki and ask him questions, stupid questions like “are you a faggot?” eventually they would start taking turns hitting him until he fell on the ground and then they would take turns crawling on top of him and punching him. Nikki never fought back and why would he? Four or five against one didn’t seem like good odds with a smaller kid and most of these guys would later be jocks in high school. Eventually Nikki never returned to school. All was normal again and the future jocks could claim their shitty positions in the pecking order of things. A year later I heard from Nikki, he was in town and wanted to hang out. It was actually his mom. They picked me up and we hung out that day. During one of the rides words were used that I had only heard on shows like The People’s Court. Lawsuit and damages were thrown around. Nikki had a disc in his back that had been dislocated during his beatings at St Monkey’s and the doctors were saying it could be a life long condition. She asked me to write a statement testifying about what I had seen happen to Nikki. I remembered him being kicked and punched on the ground. I also remembered the time I fought back and kicked one of the kids off of him. That kid cried and screamed, running off to tell momma, I guess. I was the first and last time I stood up for Nikki. That night my mom received a phone call. On the other end was a woman screaming saying words like “lawsuit” and “white trash”. From the other end of the phone that woman convinced my mother to put me over her knee and smack my ass until the scream could be heard on the other end. That was the thanks I got for sticking up for my friend. A year later I was being asked to do the same thing. I went home and wrote up a fourth-grade level statement about the kids that beat up Nikki on a daily basis. I handed it to my mom asking her to tell Nikki’s mom it was done. She took it and told me she wouldn’t. there are some things you have to let go of and if I was involved in the lawsuit, I couldn’t go to that school anymore and be with my friends. At the time I was okay with that idea, I saw what happened to my friend at that school and at some point, I was going to be next. The statement was never delivered and to this day I wish it had. I don’t know what ever happened to Nikki. I remember playing with his chemistry set and how he freaked out when I started mixing acids and basis together. I was supposed to learn something at that time. I sure it sounds like “the preservation of the institution is more important than blah blah blah” or some such shit. I wasn’t really hearing too much as the hand was hitting my ass. To this day I hate that school. Any place that has to hide or lie their way into looking good doesn’t deserve my respect. The school stated that what happened to Nikki never happened. Doesn’t seem like a very Christian stance to take on the subject. There are other things that the church tried to deny happening over the years and the hundreds of millions of dollars later isn’t looking to good for them. I will admit that for a long time I was hesitant to do anything when I saw someone in trouble. Hell, there are times I am ashamed of for not doing something. I think that bug is finally being kicked to the curb. In a world where most American’s don’t have more than one person they could call if something bad happened I am fortunate to have a few and when they are in trouble I am there. I’m sorry Nikki, I wish I could have helped, I tried. As for my other friends, I may be spanked again in the future but know that you are worth it.
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.