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I’m typically reticent when it comes to sharing the more unflattering parts of my history, but it seems like people around me have been dropping like flies lately and I don’t have the energy to ignore my own mortality.
I often find myself wondering: who’s to say I won’t be next? I’m not trying to be morbid; I am just making the point that it’d be a shame to let such juicy information go to waste because of my own false sense of pride.
Now I have written extensively about my colorful journey from Average Joe to published author, but truth be told, I was often pretty selective about the parts of my story I made public and the parts I kept to myself. Today, though, I am going to perform an ego-ectomy and let you in on a few of the embarrassing secrets that got me here today.
In October 2017, after being hounded by phone calls from the Tony Robbins coaching program for months, I finally got myself a coach. Ladies and gentlemen, please know that this was no small undertaking. It cost thousands of dollars that I did not have but, since it was going to transform my life and help me become a millionaire, I figured I’d eventually be able to pay that credit card off.
In all seriousness though, I was petrified of the idea of putting myself in so much debt for—what exactly? A one-hour phone call every 10 days? Okay, sure. I’ve read a lot of inspirational stories about people who got a life coach and improved their situation so much that the expense paid for itself. Whatever that’s supposed to mean.
Now that I had a life coach and a maxed-out credit card with a 24 percent APR, the next item on the agenda was to set a ridiculously challenging goal that we could spend the year working toward.
The idea to write a book came to me when I was having a conversation with a full-time ghost writer who lives in one of the less fashionable neighborhoods on the west side of Manhattan. She was complaining to me that everybody was getting book deals except for her. In fact, she moaned, “I just wrote a book proposal for this spoiled, rich, no-talent brat on the most ridiculous of all topics and she’s–right at this moment–in negotiations with…”
For legal reasons, I will leave out who she was talking to, but it was a major publisher and the advance was probably substantial. The thing is, the one single part of that rant that stuck in my ear was “I just wrote a book proposal…” So, when she was finished and catching her breath, I asked her if I could hire her to write a book proposal for me.
“No,” she said. “We’re friends and I usually charge about $5,000 for them. It’s best not to do that level of business with old friends. I have someone I can recommend, though. She sold her first book to a big publisher, and she ghost writes, too.”
I took her number and procrastinated for another month. Well, procrastinating might be too strong a word. But I did spend the next month working on a book proposal without any in-person help, instead relying on Jen Sincero’s, the author of all of those You are a Badass books, $100 online book proposal class.
Here’s where the life coach part comes in to play: every 10 days, my coach and I would set specific goals and then discuss how far I’d gotten at the next appointment. It only took a couple of appointments to convince myself to find more money for the book proposal expert.
By the time I did get in touch with my friend’s friend, I had a shabby, unprofessional book proposal all ready to go. Still, though, Jessica (not her real name) was impressed that I, at the very least, had all the components done—the job now was to fix it up so that a literary agent would take me seriously.
A few thousand dollars and a few thousand emails later, I had a professional book proposal—and another maxed out credit card. This one, though, was 0 percent for 12 months, so it was important that I become a millionaire as fast as possible. And while I didn’t hire Jessica as a ghost writer, I did bring her on as a hands-on editor.
The story of how I finally signed with a great literary agent in New York City is fun all by itself, and still a source of inspiration for me, but I will save it for another time. What I learned from everything leading up to my signing was that it often takes an inhuman amount of resilience and persistence to make our dreams a reality. The amount of rejection and long-winded explanations by “the professionals” on why my book would never get picked up by a publisher would likely have been enough to get 99 percent of all humans to just give up. Not just because it seemed hopeless—which it really did—but because there’s only so much negative feedback the average person can take.
But it left me with a powerful lesson: if you find yourself in a similar situation, do not give up—no matter what.
The advance my agent was able to negotiate for me covered Jessica’s fee and what I spent on my life coach. I didn’t become a millionaire, but I do have the satisfaction of knowing that I made a childhood dream come true.
I can’t be responsible for other people’s perceptions or actions, but I do have the power to sway things a little in my favor. And no, the moral of this story is not to charge a bunch of stuff on credit cards. How I obtained the resources I needed is a lot less important than the fact that I found ways to be resourceful. I decided that whether I became a published author or not did not hinge on my financial situation or my credit score. If I didn’t get my dream one way, I would’ve found some other way.
We all have what it takes to make the impossible happen. I don’t care if it’s quitting cigarettes after 30 years or getting a job as Bob Dylan’s tour bus driver. When we decide to do something and never give up until it’s done, that’s when we know we’re living up to our potential.
Anything less will only leave us feeling like life has control over us—like life is kicking our ass every day. And that’s 10 times worse than all the rejection slips in my inbox.