The headline screams: LOCAL AUTHOR GOES OUT OF BUSINESS!

Ever see that? How about a blog titled: “I Can’t Make A Living Writing Any More”?

Hmm. Nope.

Writers are strange creatures. I have complete strangers hit me up on twitter asking me publicly if I’d recommend an agent for them. Or look at their queries. Even their manuscripts (nothing  compared to what agents get hit with). Next brain surgeon I see on twitter I’m going to ask him for some free surgery, since my brain seems a little off. Seriously.

Ever have someone ask what you do, and when you answer that  you’re a writer, they say: “Never heard of you.”

My reply is: “What’s your name?” and when they tell me, I say: “Never heard of you either.”

Nah. I give them my card, a book if I have one handy. Every person is a potential reader.

Writers, we tend not to value themselves. And one of the rules my wife has taught me is: We teach people how to treat us.

I just realized I’m writing this blog after writing yesterday’s blog about Bernie Madoff. The mind works in mysterious ways. Real subtle, there, Bob.

WDW_B&N copyBack to teaching people how to treat us: when I do consulting or keynoting for Who Dares Wins, outside of the world of publishing, I quickly learned that when asked my fee, if it were too low, I might not get the gig as they then felt I wasn’t very good if I didn’t charge much. Almost the opposite of being a writer, who will give away their first born to give a talk, somehow thinking they will eventually sell books.

You have to consider not only the actual talk, but your expertise.  When I present Who Dares Wins, I’m not just giving a company a two-hour presentation.  I’m giving them the benefit of decades of experience as a Special Forces student, team leader, operations officer, commander, soldier, instructor at the JFK Special Warfare Center and consultant to previous organizations.  Also, being a NY Times bestselling author who has sold millions of books and started up a successful publishing company that has thrived through extreme turmoil in the entertainment business.  That stuff is hard to come by.  Rare.  It’s worth something.

I do feel uncomfortable when someone asks how much I charge for a talk, particularly in the writing world when I know money is tight for the organizations.  I remember, though, what I was told one year at the Maui Writers Conference.  A CEO of a very successful company told me that in the corporate world, to get the kind of high level expertise that was being given at Maui one would expect to pay tens of thousands of dollars.  And all these best-selling authors were getting was a plane ticket and a hotel room for their collective experiences and expertise.

I believe writers should value their expertise.  If asked what you charge, consider who is asking, what is being asked, and what value it will have to those who receive your expertise.  Remember, all they can do is say no, or tell you what they can pay.  Or you can always negotiate.  One technique I use for some of my day long presentations is give a percentage of my book sales at the event back to the organization.  This is a win-win situation.

Remember: if we don’t value ourselves, no one else will. List to Harlan Ellison — Pay The Writer (warning language)

Write It Forward!

MV5BMTk4MjU3OTAzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDM2NjM5NzE@._V1_UY268_CR8,0,182,268_AL_The other night my wife and watched a two part series on Bernie Madoff. Richard Dreyfuss did an excellent job portraying him. I kept trying to figure his personality out. Both for practical reasons, but also as a writer. Psychopath? Maybe. Sociopath? Pretty much if not psychopath.

The guy is actually happier in prison. My wife said that about him a long time ago, since she keeps track of everything. I mean everything. She reads the entire NY Times every day. Every article. She is constantly reading, fiction, nonfiction, whatever.

I remember when it all happened, during the financial meltdown. One of the most interesting parts is when he rants about how he’s just a smaller piece of the larger thing called Wall Street, which is all a Ponzi Scheme. And he has a point. Too big to fail? And it’s still going on. People making billions who actually produce nothing of substance. They just move numbers around, making sure most of those numbers go their way.

Even when his son killed himself and his wife finally cut him loose (only after he was in jail and then his mistress wrote a book!), he seemed okay.

220px-US_Grant_in_1885Ponzi schemes have been around as long as there has been money. It was very interesting to learn that U.S. Grant was bankrupted by a Ponzi scheme (before they were even called that). His son linked up with a banker and Grant backed them. When it collapsed, he was destitute. This, also in conjunction with learning he had fatal throat cancer, led him to do something he didn’t want to. Mark Twain had been after him for a long time to write his memoirs. Now, destitute, and facing death, he didn’t want to leave his wife with no means. So he began writing. Despite being in constant pain, often feeling like he was choking, Grant wrote at a tremendous pace, sometimes hitting 50 pages a day. He and his wife moved up from NY City to a cottage and he would be propped in a chair while he worked. Often, soldiers who’d served under him would come up and “pass in review” paying homage. He finished the memoirs five days before his death. I read his memoirs while writing my Duty, Honor, Country trilogy and found  Grant to be an intriguing character, but more on that some other day.

In a way, we see both extremes of the effect of money. On one hand we have Madoff who didn’t care who he destroyed in his desire for money. On the other, we have Grant, who put his dying effort into looking after his wife.

I don’t think it was a matter of simply greed for Madoff. His father going bankrupt, the cancer that ran in his family, the opportunity given the greed of others, etc. All came together for a perfect storm. One thing to remember is that it was the small investors, many who had no idea their money was with Madoff via other funds who were hurt the worst. Also, those who kept getting returns that were so out of the norm for so many years, never questioned things as long as they were getting their money.

And here’s my Ponzi scheme– sign up for my email list here and get the first book of the Duty, Honor, Country series: West Point to Mexico, free.

Wait– I’ve got to answer this phone call from Rachel at Card Services!

indexDuring the Los Angeles Coroner’s Inquest, William Mulholland said, “this inquest is a very painful for me to have to attend but it is the occasion of that is painful. The only ones I envy about this whole thing are the ones who are dead.” In later testimony, after responding to a question, he added, “Whether it is good or bad, don’t blame anyone else, you just fasten it on me. If there was an error in human judgment, I was the human, I won’t try to fasten it on anyone else.” William Mulholland, chief engineer, Water Department Los Angeles

The greatest civil engineering disaster of the 20th Century in the United States has largely been forgotten. It caused the second greatest loss of life in the history of California, second only to the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Amazingly, a man who had no traditional training as an engineer designed the dam. Even more interesting, the same man designed the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which just celebrated its centennial in 2013.

Two and a half minutes before midnight on 12 March 1928, the St. Francis Dam failed, sending a surge of water and debris that killed an estimated six hundred people on its journey to finally pour into the Pacific Ocean.

MullhollandThis happened despite the fact that Mulholland was called to the dam that day by the keeper, who was concerned about leakage. For more on this amazing and tragic event and all the ways it could have been avoided, and future events like it avoided, download the FREE copy of Mulholland & The St. Francis Dam: Engineering Failure.

Also, if you sign up for my newsletter, here, you get a free copy of Duty, Honor, Country: West Point to Mexico, the first book in my trilogy following such notables as Grant, Lee, Longstreet, Pickett, Sherman and others from their time at West Point into the Civil War.

Note the difference between the intact dam on the cover and the remains of the dam at the top!

 

 

GeorgeWashington WA PostThe common assumption is that the Revolutionary War was over after Yorktown. But the Treaty of Paris wasn’t signed until near the end of 1783. Those two years in between were a strange time. The British still occupied New York City. Washington had his army at a cantonment up the Hudson at Newburgh.

(psst– info on how to get a free eBook below the video).

Congress, being Congress, was having a hard time raising cash for whatever you’d want to call the United States in that interim (not very united, actually). And, of course, one of the easiest ways to save money was to withhold pay from the Army, since we weren’t actually fighting the British any more. Most people, especially those who’ve put their lives on the line, would appreciate getting paid what they’re owed. So a rumble of dissent began to spread in the ranks of Washington’s Army. Finally he was appraised that a group of officers had signed a letter basically telling Congress give us what you promised. Or else.

On 15 March 1783, Washington called his officers in and gave a speech that literally saved our country. Despite my military background, my education at West Point, etc. I’d never heard of this. And really, Newburgh is just a ride over Storm King Mountain, past the Crows Nest, from West Point. I’d known Washington camped there during that time, but not about the speech.

One of the great things about writing the Time Patrol is that I get to do a lot of research as part of the job. Six missions, same date, six different years, in every book. So Eagle gets the mission to go back to 15 March 1783 and make sure that speech is given. The Shadow, of course, has other plans. And, like Black Tuesday, the mission for Eagle’s 24 hours bubble in the past appears straightforward, and turns out to be anything but straightforward.

Here’s the latest short video Jen made for Eagle’s mission in Ides of March. I’m really liking these videos she’s putting together.

WestPoint_MexicoBe sure to sign up for our newsletter here, and you get a free Ebook; the first book in my Duty, Honor, Country, trilogy. West Point to Mexico.

Time Patrol: Ides of March

15 March 2016

Bob Mayer Appearance Discovery Channel

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