Or-Tal's Writings

entrepreneur/mother/education revolutionist/high tech addict



The Linkerview: The Path to Publishing

A couple of days ago Shelly Terrell, my friend from Texas, posted a link to an article titled “A Self-Published Author’s $2 Million Cinderella Story” .

Shelly is a teacher trainer and founder of #edchat, a weekly online international chat about education, happening weekly on twitter.

Why did you post the link to this article?
“A friend shared it with me because I am a writer, too. My projects are self-published and I am very keen on the topic of self-publishing. My self-published book, which I distribute online through my blog, got over 7,000 views/downloads in less than 3 years. My book is for educators and I am told in this category if you sell more than 1,000 you’re considered a best seller. It is now going to be published in print. So I guess the story of this self-published author, Amanda Hocking, was particularly relevant to me and I thought others may find it interesting, too.”

Why did you choose the self-publishing route?
“I am a writer and I have always written, starting as a child. I wrote poetry, too. I heard it was really difficult to get published by a publisher. Authors get rejected often. Amanda Hocking also says this in her story. One of my favorite authors, John Kennedy Toole, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, “A Confederacy of Dunces,” committed suicide at the age of 31. One reason he did this was he suffered depression and I read somewhere that rejections of his writings were a part of it and that he couldn’t handle it. His book was published after his death due to the efforts of his mother. Writers are emotional by definition and some may take all these rejections personally. I decided when I first began wanting to share my writings with the public that I wouldn’t be able to cope with so many rejections, so I didn’t even try to contact publishers and decided to publish on my own work.”

How did you do it?
“Through my blog. I like the connection with the public, so I started to blog a series of posts, which turned into an e-book. I edited it and created an e-book that can be downloaded from my blog. I travel around the world through my work and give talks so I got to speak about the e-book, too. I didn’t expect it to happen, but yes, there are over 7,000 views/downloads of the e-book so far. It is a free e-book, so more people are likely to check out something that is free. When you do go to publishers you have to make an argument to justify publishing your book. Showing that it is popular online is a good argument.”

Do you think that the future of publishing will have to go through online publishing tools?
“I am not sure this is a must, but I think all writers should be familiar with online publishing tools. In poetry only 11% of the thousands of poets out there can actually make a living of it. When the statistics are that low you are right to ask yourself what is the likelihood of being the next huge writer? It does take a lot of luck and also a lot of persistence. Hocking points to that, too.
“I think in the future more people will share their passion for writing online. Maybe not all will make so much money like she did but many will be able to make some sort of an income from it.
I am just happy I did my book the way I did it because for me it was more about getting my word around than making a career out of writing. I feel I have accomplished something.”

Is there something we can all learn from this story?
“That if you love something and you are passionate about doing it – you should do it. Don’t let the rejections and setbacks along the way slow you down. Each of us is making a personal journey. I realized my capacity for handling rejection so I chose my path. You should choose yours. Whether luck played a part in it shouldn’t make a difference”.

What would you ask Amanda Hocking, the 27 year old author, if you had met her?
“I’d like to ask her about her encounter with her audience, about an author connecting with those who read their books and finding out what touched them. This should be pretty special.”


If only there were 34 hours a day…

In less then 30 minutes I will be out the door again, on my way to the violin lesson with my 7.5 year old son. It’s raining outside, and windy, and cold. I would rather stay at home. But to be perfectly honest – the weather is not the reason. The reason is that I have so little time to work.

I feel like running against the wind. Got so many errands and driving assignments there’s barely no time left for continuous undisturbed work. With no other choices I find myself trying to catch up at night, sometimes staying up until 1AM. These are good quiet hours that allow me to read huge amounts of material. But these are slow hours for writing and really not the time for conversations at all.

I have to admit that being a mother AND an entrepreneur is, let’s put it delicately, challenging. I want to be there for my kids, I want to take a part in their lives, I want to play with them, read with them… I also want to live my own life and find time to do some sports, to meet with friends, watch TV. Taking on entrepreneurship is what changes it to super-juggling. Entrepreneurship requires more hours then a day has to offer. I’m in a serious deficit.

Is this why there aren’t so many mother-entrepreneurs?

Yet, I am not ready to give any of it up. To make things even worse – I think I have discovered my calling over the last several months. I feel so passionately about education I just know I have to get involved and start doing things. Well… I actually started to. More news would follow.

Entrepreneurship State of Mind

I was a guest listener yesterday at the youth entrepreneurship day, organized by the MIT forum at the Tel-Aviv university. Not sure they really got it. But for the few that did get the message – it was a good event. There were two hi-tech entrepreneurs and one social entrepreneur.

At a the break we chatted about the various entrepreneurship styles and my daughter asked me if artists and musicians are also considered entrepreneurs. I said without hesitation that I believe they are. Then she asked me, “So, how do you define entrepreneurship? What is it really?”

That’s when I realized that everybody, including the organizers, the speakers and the audience assumed they have the same definition of entrepreneurship. But they don’t. Even academic research is not on agreement on this term. This day should have opened with a discussion, engaging the 200 teenagers present, trying to define, receive and transmit, what is entrepreneurship?

I have a problem with this narrow dictionary definition, because it forces me to be a little liberal on the definition of “a business”. An artist spending his time and efforts creating a work of art, sometimes investing money in the purchase of materials and then having to think through marketing his work to make a living, is not less an entrepreneur then our regular hi-tech entrepreneur.

And so is the guy that invests time and sometimes money in making someone else’s life better: the social entrepreneur.

But frankly, what I see in entrepreneurship is much more fundamental then this. I see it as a way of life, a mode of thought. For me an entrepreneur is one that looks at problems through the possibilities to solve it.

Going to young people’s pre-financial era, their childhood, I can recognize entrepreneurial thinking at kids, from a very young age. Stories that may seem totally insignificant at one point may seem different after years. Like this girl who wanted to play with the red bucket that another child grabbed. She didn’t try to grab it back. She simply convinced the other kid that the blue bucket is a lot nicer. Or the kid who, at school, suggested to the kids of the new immigrants, who speak Russian between themselves, to start teaching words to their Hebrew speaking class mates, bringing them all together. Or… think about Tom Sawyer and his solution to his fence painting problem.

Entrepreneurship is all around us really. Some people have the natural tendency to think like an entrepreneur, other may need to learn this way of thinking. We might not all become great hi-tech millionaires as a result, but what we do take, is control over our lives.

Quoting an entrepreneur…

Internet entrepreneurship is a tricky thing. You really can’s say what will work and why. All this talk about a bubble really isn’t relevant to the actual businesses. Some may flourish in spite of a bubble, and others may hang their failure on a so called bubble.bubble

Bubble or no bubble, here is an inspiring bubble: quotes!
My friend and colleague, and an inspiring serial entrepreneur, Maya Elhalal launched earlier this month. I think its potential might be unpredictable.

The site offers an endless number of quotes of famous people. Quotes are friendly, inspiring, amusing, easy entertainment. They can serve as a useful tool of expression and communications. Speech writers use quotes a lot. Students can use quotes in their papers. Quotes can be used as a reference; one can lean on a quote of a famous person or celebrity, while writing a letter, a message or request.

While searching the site you immediately run across a favorite quote. What will you do with it? Copy and paste? Where to? Obviously, the option of saving it under your user name on the web site is welcome. And so you register, an immediate simple registration, which assures the Quotesdaddy site that you are going to be a returning customer.

Researches may show that quotes appeal to older and wiser web users. Scholars will enjoy it and other people who do not find quotes intimidating or overshadowing. Let’s just say it is not the usual hang about for teens who are still searching for their own voice. But, here is a different prospective on the subject: teens enjoy quoting each other and their teachers. Tag it under fun or funny. These are not the same type of quotes, but what it you could save your own collection of quotes too? And choose who to share it with? Over the years you can enjoy the growth and maturing of your collection of quotes. Not to mention creating your own quotes, quoting yourself…

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