Are You Better Off Today?

Are you better off today than you were four years ago?  This is a question that’s being asked a lot in this political arena.  It’s a question that was asked over twenty-five years ago when conditions were pretty much the same as they are now.

As I’ve heard this question asked more than a dozen times in one hour it got thinking, am I really better off today than I was four years ago?  That’s a heavy question to answer and one that could not be answered easily.  Taking all politics out of the question, so I could get a true honest answer, am I better off today than I was four years ago?  The answer is YES.

Like I said, I’m taking all politics out of my answer so when I say Yes, it has nothing to do with the policies of ANY political party.  Now, when I answer, “Yes I’m better off,” it’s because of my own hard work and nothing else.

The year was 2008.  I had been writing as an author for two years now and had less than twenty followers or fans.  I had lost my house and was now living in the heart of the ghetto of North Houston, Greenspoint, better known as Gunspoint.  There was only one car to share between my wife and I and since she had my daughter she got the car, one that was barely running at the time.

To pay the bills I was working for a security company that was barely keeping it’s head above water.  I had no health insurance, close to eighty security officers who reported to me and hated my guts, a bunch of properties that were under my care to improve on their conditions.  I worked close to eighty hours a week, twenty four of those hours were straight, but only got paid for sixty of those hours.  I was on call 24/7 and if I got four hours of sleep at a time I was lucky.

Thanks to my hard work the company was expanding and expanding fast.  By the end of the summer I had helped to double the size of our branch, we were no longer treading water.  Just as things were looking up Mother Nature threw us a curve ball, Hurricane Ike.  After the storm I went to work protecting our interest.  I made sure all our properties were being looked after, personally driving in a patrol vehicle twelve hours straight and having the other patrol officers take up the other half.

That hard work earned me a full time office position and a raise.  Our accounts doubled again because of my hard work.  In January of 2009, thanks to the raise, I was able to get my family out of the run down apartments in Gunspoint and into a house we rented.

With my hours now reduced I was about to concentrate on my writing.  I had self published two books and learned the hard way about self publishing.  If I wanted to sell my work I had to sell it myself.  Selling myself I did.

I was already an avid blogger on the MYFOX sight.  Houston was my main source of blogging but I was making appearances in New York, Los Angeles, and much to my surprise Raleigh, North Carolina.  I went from having less than twenty followers in a two year period to having over fifty followers, as well as a few haters.  I’ve always said, “You haven’t made it big until you have a few haters.”

I was living high on the hog for the next two months.  Life was great until one day I came into the office and the gates of hell had broken loose the night before.  Long story short I was now without a job because I did the right thing.  I refused to allow the loss of a job to turn my life upside down again.

I made a few new contacts due to my actions after Hurricane Ike.  I managed to gather a few favors while I was at it.  I decided to try to cash those favors in.  While there was a hiring freeze going on; through the contacts I landed my current job and am still here today.

A month after my new employment I received an email from my publisher that they were going to make a deal with local book stores to buy back any unsold books not sold during a book signing IF they gave me a chance to have a book signing.  It was my job to get the store manager to agree.

I hussled and emailed every Barnes and Noble in the Houston and surrounding areas but they were pretty much all booked up for the summer.  There was a Barnes and Noble where I worked and after meeting with the manager face to face he decided to give me a chance, even though self published authors was frowned upon by B&N.

I was excited.  I was interviewed on an internet radio show and by the local newspaper where I was going to have the book signing.  I just had one major problem, my publisher was screwing me over on the price of the book.  They were charging $25 for the paperback book and I had no say over the price.  It was MY book and even I would not pay that price, so I came up with ideas for freebies.

The book I really wanted to push was The Guardians, and I had not found a publisher yet, refusing to use the same publisher I was using.  I figured if I could drum up enough interest in the book I had a better chance of getting an agent to sell the book to.  I hand printed booklets on my printer with the first two chapters as a teaser.  I had T-Shirts made up that said I <3 a="a" angels="angels" back="back" book.="book." bought="bought" first="first" for="for" guardian="guardian" of="of" on="on" people="people" set="set" span="span" style="mso-spacerun: yes;" ten="ten" the="the" who="who" wings="wings" with="with"> 
Also I had book marks, a cloth shoulder bag to carry the books in, and booklets of poetry I’ve written for everyone who bought a book.

Invitations were sent out to all my contacts in the Houston and surrounding areas.  The day of the book signing came and it was time to see if all my hard work had paid off.  I had twenty books to sell and only four hours in which to do so.  With support from my family and hard work I sold eighteen of the twenty books, the other two selling a few days later.  I made new fans that day and am very grateful to all whom came out, including one who drove almost an hour to come see me.

There was one person who walked past me and smugly said, “If I can’t read it on my Nook then it’s not worth me reading.”  That comment stuck with me.  Right then I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I was no longer going to be at the mercy of some publisher who did not care about me.  I needed an agent.  Over the next few months I pounded the pavement with both fist trying to get an agent for The Guardians.  I was rejected over and over.  Finally I received a rejection that hit me hard.  While every rejection I’ve gotten so far was a form letter this rejection was hand written and was a personal attack on me and my book.

That rejection letter hit me hard, I was about ready to give up, put the cap on my pen and never write another word.  I went into my dark place and didn’t come out for two weeks.  When I came out I decided to do everything myself, after all, no one will work harder to sell me than me.

Over the next few months I was working hard to get the books I had completed so far to print, in paper and electronic form.  Granted I rushed, and have been trying to fix my mistakes ever since.  With my books printed, my ebooks available for free, I started to gain more followers. 

In 2008 if you did a Google search for Max M. Power it took you five pages before you found me.  Now, four years later, if you do the same search it takes three pages before I’m not on the page.

I have a steady job, three years so far.  I own two cars, and will be getting a third in February of 2013.  I have my own house, in a nice quite area, far from the ghetto I have lived all my life.  I have health insurance, it may be shitty insurance but it’s still better that the none I had four years ago.  So YES, I am better off today than I was for years ago but this is due to my own hard work and nothing any political party has done for me.

Are you better off today than you were four years ago?