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“Startup success has its own problems: production, fulfillment, marketing, accounting”

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RODNEY CHARLES authored 9 books and contributed to 100’s. He is founder and president of 1st World Publishing and non-profit 1st World Library Literary Society.

1st World Publishing aggregates author services required for success, taking care of publishing industry details, allowing the author to maintain control over the outcome of his book.

1st World Library is dedicated to providing people everywhere access to the world of literature that is in the public domain and/or out of print. Through its on-line bookstore and library, 1st World library assures that the Literary Society’s books remain available.

Rodney has contributed and edited hundreds of popular titles in dozens of genres and authored 9 books: The Land of Love, Art & Genius; Lighter Than Air, The Name Book (editor), Publish It NowBook Marketing BasicsParenting Teenage Werewolves – Volume 1, Liberating Teenage Werewolves – Volume 2 and the best-selling Every Day a Miracle Happens and Miracles of the Saints.

Rodney’s Story

Here is Rodney’s story as he tells it:

“I first decided to launch a career as an author in 1991. I lived in Fairfield, Iowa, and I didn’t have a dime. I had passed the previous 14 years of my life as a monk in upstate New York, and having graduated from the life of spiritual development, I couldn’t possibly have been more naive about the ways of the world.

It didn’t take long to figure out that I had better find a way to make some money or I’d soon be fighting over sidewalk space with my local street people.

I found a way to eke out a living buying and selling artwork, while at night during my travels, I was writing a manuscript–which, like all authors, I knew was the greatest literary work ever created.

Having spent so many years as a monk, I naturally had a passion for the lives of saints. I read hundreds of biographies (possibly thousands) and compiled brief accounts of their lives into a story-a-day book called EVERY DAY A MIRACLE HAPPENS.

I just knew that publishers were going to be frantically fighting over the right to publish this masterpiece. I could see each publisher bidding higher and higher in the millions, offering record-breaking advanced royalties.

Alas, it did not happen.

Not only did I receive dozens of “form-generated –rejection letters,” but even family and friends felt in necessary to elucidate my delusions.

Of course, this was madness! I could hardly believe there were so many publishers incapable of recognizing my idiomatic literary genius. Who knew!

So I devised a plan. I would publish EVERY DAY A MIRACLE HAPPENSmyself. After all, how hard could it be and how could I deprive the world of this modern masterpiece?

There was, however, one small problem: I didn’t have any money. In fact, I had no credit history. I had never owned a credit card, taken out a loan, owned a mortgage and until a year or so before, I had never had a bank account (one of the benefits of monkhood).

The next day, I visited the bank to ask for my first loan, waving my 600-page manuscript in hand. The loan officers were aghast that my name didn’t even appear in any of the credit systems so they respectfully laughed me right out of the bank.

Rejected, I got in my car and started to drive until an idea hit me. I WILL PRE-SELL MY MASTERPIECE!!!

About forty minutes of research in the local public library gave me the names and addresses of all the bookstores and distributors within a 4 hour drive of Fairfield, Iowa.I formatted my book using an elementary word processing program so it looked like a real “trade-sized” book and printed out a color copy of a self-designed cover which I pasted over the formatted pages. Squinting at it from a very long distance, it looked almost like a real book.

Touting my mockup book, I drove to every distributor in my area and visited with all the regional buyers for the Barnes and Noble chain of stores. My enthusiasm was infectious and I promised to do book signings in all of their stores once the book was in print (a promise that I kept).

Before 2 weeks had passed, I solicited over 2,400 orders for my book and I had the purchase orders and book order requests on bookstore stationary to support it.

I returned to the same loan officer and said “Let’s do the math”

He looked over the purchase orders, slapped himself on his forehead and said, “I am going to regret this” (but he never did). He issued me a loan for $12.000, which was enough money to print 3,000 copies of my book. My publishing career had begun.

There is no describing the feeling of holding your first published book in your hand. In my mind, I saw hoards of people pushing and shoving at the entrances to bookstores, eager to snatch up the last remaining copy of my masterpiece.

But it never happened. In fact nothing happened, until I realized that EVEN THOUGH MY BOOK WAS AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE, NO ONE KNEW ABOUT IT.

I had very little money at that time, but I just knew my book was the cure for the plague that ravaged the ailing masses, so off I set to let them know that the end to their literary starvation was only a book away.

I mentioned earlier that no one could have been more ignorant of the publishing industry than I, so my plan was very simple: drive to every city where I had family or friends who wouldn’t mind my visit, and set up book signings and free talks at the local libraries. For the most part, my plan worked quite well, but it was far more work than I had imagined. After I set up an event in a city, I opened the local Yellow Pages and called every TV, radio and print media listing I could find. The first few cities were the most difficult. Most media people declined my promotions, but I was still able to set up three or four announcements, author interviews, book reviews or articles, and that started the ball rolling. Once I had some press clippings in my resume I created a media kit and each successive city got easier and easier to promote. People were finding out about my book and it was starting to sell, independent of my efforts.

Every Day A Miracle Happens is an easy read and a good choice in its field, that’s also light and fun.” Publisher’s Weekly

 My break came when I finally drafted a letter to Publishers Weekly, ignorantly pleading that I simply did not understand the conventions of the publishing industry and would they please consider my book for review even though I did not submit a galley copy to them four months prior to the publication date.

My book ended up on the desk of Phyllis Tickle, the religion editor for Publishers Weekly, who took a risk, broke convention and gave EVERY DAY A MIRACLE HAPPENS a superb review. This single review catalyzed numerous unsolicited reviews from other reviewers and was ultimately responsible for placing my book on regional and national bestsellers lists.

What I didn’t know was that success has its own set of problems. My book was in demand, so I needed to print more and more copies. I was taking orders, managing print runs, shipping and fulfilling orders, warehousing, billing, doing customer service, managing collections of accounts receivable, processing returns, etc, etc. There was absolutely no time for marketing and promotions and no time to complete the second book of my dreams.

1st World Publishing was the response to this dilemma. Combining the author services required for success, I created a publishing company for every author. 1st World Publishing is a complete publishing house that takes care of the many details of the publishing industry and allows authors to be writers who maintain control over the outcome of their books.”


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Meditating Entrepreneurs

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ISBN-13: 978-0-9652187-4-0 (Paperback edition)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9652187-5-7 (Ebook edition)
Book design: George Foster
Photography: Jim Davis, Werner Elmker, Fairfield Ledger
Lyrics and music of Happy Cow - © 2010 Arthur Lee Land
Audiobook production: Jeffrey Hedquist