Women and the new entrepreneurship.
I’ve finally, truly wrapped my head around the fact that I’m an entrepreneur. A business owner. (It’s April 7, and the ink is drying on the checks I just wrote that prove it, made out to U.S. Treasury and Hawaii State Tax Collector, respectively.) This is the story of how it happened.
I’ve been reading revolutionary literature for a couple of years now: I began with Seth Godin and his amazing, thought provoking blog. I came to believe that hidebound thinking coupled with fear was holding me back, and out of frustration with the traditional publishing industry, I published my first novel last year.
In addition to writing every free moment, I was doing ridiculous 55 hour workweeks building my private practice and working my full time state job as my husband recovered from a health crisis.
Something had to change, and I’d begun to realize it had to be me. I was the only one who could set myself free from workaholism and the need for security, and last May I did the unthinkable: I voluntarily left a secure state job with a retirement pension, in a bad economy, with my husband also a self-employed artist.
And it f*cking worked out wonderfully.
One year later, I still get up every day and thank God for this life. I get to write my books and help people, the two big things I feel like I was put on this earth to do. I’ve lost thirty pounds since last May, able to take care of my health and exercise now. This May, one year since I quit the job, Mike and I are leaving on a month-long road trip to see the National Parks. It’s a lifelong dream and I hope, the first of many.
I’ve been reading books and blogs by some revolutionary writing entrepreneurs, and they’ve colored and shaped my thinking. Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, Tucker Max, Hugh Howey, James Altucher and Kathyrn Kristine Rusch have all planted seeds of freedom. I have individually contacted each of them to thank them for how they’ve touched my life and inspired me, and even more amazing, they’ve all responded.
These are revolutionaries with heart and soul who care about helping others. I want to be one of them. I already am, in my small way. And I’ve been pondering why, in studying that lineup of the new freethinkers, Rusch is the only woman I'm following. In a much touted Entrepreneurship summit with some of my “mentors,” I only spotted one woman in the speaker lineup.
I’ve got a few ideas on the subject. I think mainly, women aren’t socialized to put it all out there, take radical chances and talk about it. If we do, we’re bigmouthed, horn-tooting bitches.
So we’re scared to talk about business. How we work for change. Our visions and dreams. How we sacrifice for our husbands and children.
I know. I did all that, too—and now, I feel the best gift I can give both my young adult children is the gift of continuing to live bold and free, a life of purpose, generosity, and creativity. True to my calling.
This journey hasn’t been without many failures and bruises. This last week I had a huge setback when The Islander Group, a book and Hawaiiana distributor, declined to carry my print books. That would have been the doorway into Costco, Target, any number of Hawaii retail businesses, all of whom order from them. I have a salesperson trying hard to get venues for my print books, only to have doors continually shut because of being self published. It’s painful, and discouraging, and yet I persist because when people see my beautiful books and hold them, they want them.
I’m still hoping for some outlets to carry the books, and it’s costing me money to do so.
I’m an entrepreneur, and dizzy with the rollercoaster of it. I’m telling the story of it, in hopes it inspires you to take some chances too. I’m a forty-eight year old mother of two, wife of twenty-seven years, former workaholic mental health therapist who loves to make up stories. I’m breaking stereotypes, and I’ve never been called a bitch by anyone who really knew me—I’m much more of a marshmallow people-pleaser.
Guess what? You can be nice and successful too. Assholes aren’t the only ones to finish first! (Tucker Max’s book) So here’s to the new generation of freethinkers—and all the middle aged women taking destiny by the hand and walking into it. May we all be successful in our endeavors.
I took my Building an Author Platform book down from Amazon this week. From now on, it’s available to any writer who asks, free. Just email me.
I hope it helps a few more people sell a few more books.
What do you think of women and the new entrepreneurship? I for one suspect that the numbers are unparalleled. Got any great women's business blogs for me to follow?
What an inspiring post! I’m happy for you! 🙂
Thanks Malia, aloha!
I agree with you that women are accomplishing so much these days & have many gifts to share. It’s an exciting time that we live in where we can build a dream via the internet, even if we live thousands of miles from the next piece of land. It can be intimidating to state, “I’m a business owner…or artist…or writer…or whatever.” But stating the truth & identity of who we are & living out who we were created to be is one of the biggest joys this life has to offer. Thank you for sharing your journey!
Toby, you have inspired me from the get-go. I had the same experience with my novel. A major bookstore wouldn’t take it because it’s from Createspace. Yet, other stores have it, it sells out regularly and bookclubs read it. I continue on. Getting the prequel ready. You go, girl. We are entrepreneurs.
Awesome, Janet, I’ve loved sharing the journey with you.
Imua, Tita. Thanks for the info. You’ve given me a few new places to look for inspiration.
Puzzled as to why The Islander Group wouldn’t take your books. Too bad they’re the only game in town for us Hawaii writers. I chose to self-distribute Haleakala: A History of the Maui Mountain for various reasons, but it’s pretty island-specific, so I can do that. Your books should be in Costco and Target.
As to being an entrepreneur–last year when there was all that political argument going on, I both published a book (with professional help on editing, indexing and layout) and renovated a rental cottage (with all kinds of help on construction, painting, etc.), and realized that I am a “job creator.” So there, politicians! And not the least of the jobs I create is my own.
Enjoy your National Park trip. I’m envious. But you obviously deserve a vacation!
Jill, it’s so frustrating (about Islander Group) I seriously have the numbers for them to sell and I don’t see what risk they run just listing my books… but they told me “not listing new vendors this year” after a lengthy review process. Ultimately, I think it’s because of the self pub thing. And I really got to see how I’m a “job creator” too, with all the people I paid on my taxes! And all of them other women entrepreuneurs, except my husband who does my cover photos.
It’s a good feeling, to be a job creator! <3
Happy for you, Toby. I tell people that in terms of achieving success, the same 9-5 that puts food on the table, is the same thing that hampers us from stepping out and seeking success on own terms. Wishing you even bigger successes in your writing career.
Thanks JL, right back atcha!!
Pure balls! So proud, hope i can find the nerve one day!
LOL I told Bonny I feel like my whole life these days is like walking around bare-ass naked. So I’m calling it “pure ovaries” since dudes aren’t the only ones with “balls”! I think you have what it takes Wendy, and I hope you follow your dreams. But, there’s a season for everything, and building your nest and raising your family is a what gives you the confidence and foundation to step out into more. At least, it did for me.
Toby: I’ve been with Islander Group for so long that i still call them “Booklines” (which was their original name). The man who started Booklines took Jill and me on a personal tour of his warehouse and office in 1986 when he distributed our Maui guidebook. We were self published. I noticed a difference in 1999 when Booklines took my Voices of Wisdom book — they were not as homespun, much more business like. I assume, that as a print book business, they are suffering from the ebook phenomenon, so they may just have to cut back. Too bad, cuz your books would sell to tourists looking for an island read while here (and tourists stop at Costco before they even go to their hotels and condos). To make you feel better, i have not been able to get Booklines to put Voices of Wisdom in Costco for years. It also is a good tourist book, but their Maui guy simply won’t put it in the store. No reason. I’m really sorry for you, but i know you’ll keep trying.
You are a pioneer in this new world of how books get out there. Keep going it will change for sure!
I am thrilled to read this as I had no idea your first novel was so recent! I thought you had been at it for years! This is a great story and so inspiring! As they say, Follow your Bliss! And keep writing, please! So glad you are sharing the inside story. It is so motivating, strong and clear. I think we are supposed to live out our gifts and that is what you are doing!
Wow, Toby. I knew you were amazing, but now I’m even MORE stunned by just how much gumption you have. You’re a great role model for creative people everywhere!
Dear Holly, thank you. It’s mutual! <3 <3 <3
Toby, you have been a major inspiration to me. You’ve helped me think of possibilities that I never even knew existed. With your writing and your ideas you are a powerful source of change!! Thank you! I am glad you exist in the world and I get to know what you are doing 🙂
Thank you Melanie, right back atcha! So glad you are writing!!
Toby, so disappointed to hear about Islander Group, but not surprised after what happened here when Borders shut down all stores. They’re not selling enough books in print. When I took the Dan Poynter self publishing class on Maui, he taught us that book stores were the worst place to sell books. We need to think out of the box, like restaurants, surplus stores, coffee farms, gift boutiques, all things Hawaii, and it takes so much energy. I was so ambitious I submitted my books to New York Publishing Companies, Village Voice, even did book signings in 4 Vegas Borders. Don’t be discouraged. Your books are gorgeous, wonderful, fast paced Hawaii Based Crime novels that leave us all wanting more. I share with all my guests. Do a cross country grass roots marketing thing like “Plant a Wish” and meet the owners of small stores. Send them birthday cards, like Jacqueline Suzanne recommends in 1001 ways to market your books by John Kremer You’re books are awesome and so are you!.
Dear Marilyn, I love your ideas as always! I will sicc Ihilani on them! Part of the challenges is definitely time for me, I’m trying to focus on what only I can do (write the books) and find the right people for my team. I love being a job creator!
Thank you for your encouragement. I would never have even had them look at my books without you!
GOOD GRAVY! Just read this post and I’m amazed and honored to *know* you. Screw them all, Toby. Nobody tells us when the party’s over.
Molly is exactly right! Excellent post, Toby, thank you for putting it all out there.
After losing everything! in 2009, I took a job as a substitute teacher (my degree is NOT in education) at a high school so bad most subs refuse work there. Acknowledging that everything in my life was at the lowest point possible with nothing else to lose, and desperate for money, I stood in front of 35 students, polar opposites of me, pretending that I wasn’t sweating and quivering. The voice in my head repeated over and over, You are such a faker. I could only mentally commit to 55 minutes at a time, then take a break and start again, until the 3 o’clock bell rang. Faking it in front of those students gave me the courage to make it in my own life; to pull myself together and resign that I could be in charge of, uh, only me. And that the last third of my life is going to rock! This party ain’t over!
You’ll work it out, Toby, you’ve come too far not to.
Hee hee! Thank you Molly!
Aloha Toby! Great piece. I know my wife can relate to some of your points. Keep chasing your dreams, you are succeeding.
Way to go Toby… I am cheering and rooting for you! I had no idea your first book was published only last year. I’m amazed at how far you’ve gone and see a vision of your books in Costco and anywhere else you want to sell them.
Came over from Kris’s blog. 🙂 Have you looked into Ella Distribution? http://www.elladistribution.com/
They’ve been touted by both Kris and Dean, and I just checked: They take non-fiction titles too. Might be worth a look-see.
I envy you that you’re in Hawaii! Right now, here in NJ, the skies are gray, which means we’ll be getting rain some time soon. ::sigh::
Hope you continue to enjoy success! 🙂
How is it I can be so silly as to reply to my own post? Way too silly sometimes. 😉
But I just wanted to say the reason I pointed out that Ella takes non fiction is because I thought they only took fiction – it was nice to see they’re offering to take non fiction as well. Plus they have the backing of Kris and Dean, so it might be a good place to start for anyone who’s a regular of this blog who self pubs. (Going to subscribe right now.) Have fun visiting those National Parks!
Hi Nancy, great to meet you!! I already have my salesgirl working on submitting!
Mahalo for sharing your story and hopefully inspiring other women to take the leap of faith in business. My two businesses left me dangling on a limb for many years, but with lots of perseverance, hard work and a great deal of trust, they are successful and still going strong. Keep your dreams alive., love seeing small business succeed, and creative people shine!!! Best to you.
It’s great to hear you’re making it happen! Running your own business, be it authoring/selling books to taking people snorkeling, is not an easy task. Most people have a romantic idea of what it entails, but it’s a lot of work (much of which isn’t fun at all.)
You’re awesome! Keep kicking butt!