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On Friday afternoon, April 29, 2016 hundreds of authors, editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and book managers received disheartening news that their publisher Booktrope is going out of business. Booktrope is a hybrid publisher that gave new and seasoned authors an alternative to traditional publishing and an innovative option to launch their books without the upfront costs of independent publishing (editing, proofreading, formatting, and cover design). The creative people involved in the process of publishing the books were all freelancers. Instead of getting paid a flat fee, creative team members would get a percentage of royalties. It certainly wasn’t for everyone, but it worked for a lot authors and freelancers. At least for a while. Things began to fall apart over the past year or so as the company attempted to grow and innovate. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great idea, but sadly, it just didn’t work.

My history with Booktrope

A friend of mine was on the staff and had tried to persuade me to relaunch my Amazon best-selling horror novel Devil’s Nightmare with Booktrope a couple of years ago. It was tempting, because my first edition wasn’t professionally edited, but it was still selling well. Long story short, in December, 2014, I decided to take the offer and publish both Devil’s Nightmare novels with Booktrope under their Forsaken horror imprint. I wasn’t thrilled about giving up a chunk of my royalty share, but my books needed professional editing and I couldn’t afford the upfront costs.

After putting together my team, I spent the next six months getting Devil’s Nightmare edited, proofread, new cover designed, laid out, and re-published under Booktrope’s Forsaken horror imprint. After seeing the final product, I knew I had made the right decision. Devil’s Nightmare is much better now. We relaunched it on July 6, 2015 and then relaunched the sequel Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions on February 16, 2015. While the process took longer than I had hoped, it was worth it… until rumors started spreading that Booktrope wasn’t doing well and struggling to stay afloat.

Signs of impending closure

About six months ago, my friend who “recruited” me left the company. He was professional about it and never told me specifically why he left, but I had my suspicions. A number of editors, cover designers, and authors had also jumped ship over the past several months. The company started making changes that I thought were positive, and just recently had gotten Devil’s Nightmare and several other Sci-Fi and Horror authors’ books in a Humble Bundle promotion giving us a lot of new potential readers. Nearly 7,000 bundles were sold in March. And then BookBub (a very popular promotional book club) selected Devil’s Nightmare to be featured in their May 3 newsletter. Things were looking great! Then I got the news that Booktrope was officially going out of business.

A message from Booktrope:

We are deeply saddened to report Booktrope is ceasing business effective May 31, 2016. We are not accepting submissions and production is complete.

Booktrope has helped hundreds of authors get over 4 million copies of their books into the hands of readers. We are proud our creative teams have produced almost 1000 books using our platform. Thank you to all readers, authors, investors, partners, and creative team members who were a part of this journey with us.

Booktrope plans to de-list every book published by them on May 31, which means I will need to re-publish Devil’s Nightmare and Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions once again. This couldn’t have come at a worse time… right as I’m about to launch a big promotion. Needless to say, I’m a bit frustrated.

Moving forward

I don’t regret my decision to publish with Booktrope because of the friendships I’ve made with staff members and fellow authors. I’ve also learned a few things about the publishing industry. But most importantly, I think I’ve learned that I’m an “indie” at heart. So, I’m not going to let this temporary obstacle knock me down. I started my writing career as an indie author and I’ve decided to continue down that path. This has created some unexpected work for me and will delay a couple of projects, but I’m okay with that. It’s just part of this unpredictable business.

Stay tuned for what comes next as I transition back to self-publishing. For those of you who have purchased my books, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude. One door is shutting, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my dreams. I promise to continue to work hard to bring you more stories for years to come. I may also have some really exciting news in the near future. I just can’t say anything, because nothing is official yet. How’s that for a cliffhanger? 🙂

Cheers!

Sharky Teeth

SCRATCH LINE

Profile Photo (Cropped)

Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

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As the title indicates 2013 was full of ups and downs for me on both a professional and personal level. There were a lot of great things that happened in 2013, but the year wasn’t void of disappointments and tragedy either.

First Horror Novel Published

Devil's Nightmare Original eBook CoverA year ago today, I published my second book and first horror novel Devil’s Nightmare through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. I also published it through Smashwords, Kobo and Barnes & Noble’s Nook publishing platforms, but publishing on the Kindle is what shined for me. More on that later. I started writing Devil’s Nightmare in January 2012 after quitting my job at the local newspaper a few months prior, and nine months later the first draft was complete. It was a lot of fun writing and publishing this novel and I take great pride in the fact that I was able to get it written and published within a year. This is compared to writing and publishing my first book Pursuit of a Dream, which took over two years to write and I didn’t even handle the publishing part myself for the print edition, but that’s a whole other story.

A year ago today I hit the publish button with a homemade cover that I created for Devil’s Nightmare with a free eBook cover program I found online (I can’t remember which one I used). It was pretty plain with a photo of lightning that I used with permission from the photographer. With plans of having my cover redesigned for the print edition I figured this cover would work for a couple of months until I could scrape up the money for a professional designed one. Sales were pretty much non-existent at first, and to be honest I could not help but be discouraged. It’s normal, though, and I got over it. I just needed to work on getting the word out. It wasn’t going to sell on its own and marketing has never been one of my strong suits and I knew it was going to take a lot of time and patience. At this point writing isn’t my primary source of income, so patience was definitely the key.

Financial Highs and Lows

Jireh Administrative ServicesMy main income comes from my home-based administrative support business called Jireh Administrative Services. I provide various services from transcribing, PowerPoint presentations, general office support, and also write resumes from time to time all from the comfort of my home office. I also added “funeral support services” and work part-time at a funeral home (perfect for a horror writer, right?). This basically materialized from working as the obituaries coordinator at the newspaper. One of the funeral home owners offered me a part-time job when I left the newspaper, so I help occasionally in the evenings, but I have also worked funerals driving the limo and hearse. I usually just help out during visitations and rosaries, though. Anyway, by the summer of last year I was keeping very busy and feeling confident that leaving the newspaper was the best decision of my life. Life was good and I no longer had to deal with ridiculous office politics.

Keeping very busy with my home business and working with the funeral home to help pay the bills also resulted in unintended consequences. Due to not being very structured I didn’t reach my goal of publishing Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions this month. As a matter of fact, I barely did any writing during the last half of the year, so I’m pretty disappointed about that.

However, something happened, which I think was both a blessing and a curse. In the last quarter of 2013 I only received about a third of the business I was receiving during the spring and summer. The curse . . . a lot less income. The blessing . . . more time to write and time to focus on getting more structured in 2014. On a positive note, while I did lose a big chunk of income for Jireh Administrative Services, sales for Devil’s Nightmare have finally become steady and I’m now receiving monthly royalty checks from Amazon.

Devil’s Nightmare enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select Program

Devils NightmareIn July after having virtually no sales on any eBook platform, except for a few here and there on Amazon, I decided to try Amazon’s KDP Select program, which basically meant I would be selling my eBook version of Devil’s Nightmare exclusively on Amazon in exchange for free promotional tools and enrollment in the Kindle Lending Program. I figured I had nothing to lose. So, I set up my first free promotion, which I shared and advertised on Goodreads. After the free promotion I went from selling just a few copies of Devil’s Nightmare per month to hitting a couple of bestseller lists on Amazon UK . . . actual sales, not free downloads. Sales were also better in the US, but they were still pretty slow. Once I started getting more reviews on Amazon US, however, Devil’s Nightmare began outselling the book in the U.K. I also started getting sales for my first book Pursuit of a Dream, which is also now exclusive on Amazon.

Devil's Nightmare (6 in Horror Suspense Amazon UK)Right now my focus is on getting Devil’s Nightmare into as many Kindles as possible, so I decided to keep the book at 99 cents, which is what seems to be the sweet spot for my novels right now. Granted I would get a lot more royalties by selling them at $2.99, but I get a lot more readers at the 99 cent price point. Volume is more important to me right now than royalty income. It’s pretty cool to see my novel listed next to Stephen King’s and Dean Koontz’s books too! I’m nowhere near retirement numbers, but to me I consider the results after signing up for KDP Select a huge success.

Rest in Peace, Grandpa

GrandpaAnd now my life’s roller coaster climbs another peak and plummets at high speed once again. Actually, throughout the year the subject of my grandfather has been a very touchy one. Without going into a lot of detail, my grandmother died in 2008, and then shortly afterwards my grandfather met someone at one of the local Bingo halls and basically had himself a new companion. That was uncomfortable at first, but he needed companionship. So, everyone in the family was pretty much okay with it . . . at first. To make a long story short, she turned out being a gold digger and just as my grandfather’s health declined this woman convinced him to elope, change the will, moved him 300 miles away from his family and refused to tell anyone where he was living. There’s obviously a lot more to this story. This woman has been married three times, and she will again soon I’m sure because my grandfather died just a few months after this woman married and brainwashed him into thinking his family didn’t love him and was just after his money (It’s not like he was a millionaire and, ahem, she’s the one that was after his money). She pretty much took most of what my grandmother and grandfather had worked for and was going to leave for my mom, aunt, and uncle. My grandmother and grandfather were married for 60 years. This woman knew him for about four or five years and was married to him for only a few months before he died and she took almost everything. All of this could have been prevented, but the legal system makes it extremely difficult to prevent these kinds of things from happening. Law enforcement wouldn’t do anything and adult protection services wouldn’t or couldn’t do anything because they were consenting adults and my grandfather had to be the one to get rid of this woman. I literally could write a book about this whole ordeal. It’s just so unbelievable. You see movies about stuff like this and never think it could actually happen to your family, but it did.

The Rollercoaster Ride Ends and a New Year Begins

So, as you can see, it was quite the roller coaster ride for me and I just gave you the Cliff Notes version even at 1,400 words. However, while the year ended with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, I do have great expectations for 2014. I have a plan that includes getting back on track with my writing and getting Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions completed and published by this summer. I may even have another story published by the end of the year if everything works out as planned. Furthermore, for those who have enjoyed Chumming with Sharky™ you’ll be glad to know that it’ll also be making a comeback this year. So, stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to this blog for future updates.

Chumming with Sharky

Oh, and one more thing to add about 2013 that leaves me pouting . . .

I still haven’t won the lottery!

Cheers! Have an awesome and prosperous 2014, everyone!

Sharky Teeth

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Self-Publishing Seminar in San Antonio

Devil’s Nightmare by Robert Pruneda available in print and eBook formats. Click the image below for more details.
Devil's Nightmare

First off… you’ll notice that I changed the title of this post. It went from “Balancing Hats of the Self-Employed” to “Self-Employment & Balancing Many Hats” to “Adventures in Self-Employment” which I find fits this story best overall.

Anyway, in Part 1 of this blog post I wrote about my adventures in self-employment at an early age and my rise and fall as Godfather of an underground candy redistribution enterprise. I went from a kid selling stationary door-to-door in my neighborhood to pushing candy like a crack dealer in high school (and getting shut down by “The Man” in the process) only to find myself flipping burgers in the fast-food industry and eventually getting assimilated into an office drone.

I’ve always wanted to be independently employed, and while I’ve enjoyed most of the traditional jobs that I’ve had, there’s just something about self-employment that has always picked at my soul. The entrepreneurial bug bit me again in 1997 while I was living in Austin, Texas and working as a tour operations assistant at a privately owned international bird-watching tour and travel agency. My best friend called me one day to tell me about an exciting business opportunity that a friend of his introduced him to. He told me that it was a legitimate business that has been around since 1959 and the potential to make big money was staggering. He sounded like an infomercial, but I listened to him give me the basic formula of how this business worked where you owned your own product distribution business with access to a huge catalog of household products, electronics, jewelry, food, etc., etc. It sounded like door-to-door sales to me. I wasn’t interested.

My friend further explained that the cool thing about this business is that if you got enough people in your network, you would earn commissions off the people in your network. The more people in your network, the more passive income you would make. The whole idea was that every independent business owner in the network would buy their basic household products from their own business. If you needed laundry detergent, paper towels, vitamins, batteries, etc., instead of going to the local Wal-Mart, you’d just order direct from “your” company. Plus, there was an extensive catalog of affiliate big name brand partners that you had access to for radios, CD players, telephones, even TVs… all at a discounted rate because you were buying direct, cutting out the middleman. All you had to do was convince your friends and family to start their own product distribution business, buy from themselves and get others to join up under them and so forth. If you had enough people in your network, you eventually wouldn’t have to work because you would be living off of the commissions of your network.

The whole thing sounded interesting, but it also sounded a bit complicated and too good to be true. However, I figured I would give my friend the benefit of the doubt and at least meet with him and his “business sponsors” for a demonstration of the parent company’s products and more details on how exactly this business worked. So, that weekend I drove two hours with no intention of actually agreeing to anything. It was more out of courtesy to my friend than anything. After all, we went to high school together and had been friends for several years.

I have to admit that I was impressed with the product demonstration, which mainly consisted of household cleaners and detergents. After selling me on the core line of products, Mr. and Mrs. Business Sponsor explained the ins and outs of the business network with a nice little drawing of circles and legs linking to other circles with their own legs linking to other circles. My name was in the top circle. Mrs. Business Sponsor asked me if I knew three people that I thought would be interested in starting their own business on a part-time basis and making some extra money. The theory would be that each of them would then get three other people to participate, and those three people would get three people, and so forth. Mr. and Mrs. Business Sponsor then explained how commissions from product sales were distributed. I don’t remember exactly what those percentages were but it all made sense and looked good on paper. The parent company also paid every independent business owner directly, which apparently was a problem back in the day when the business sponsors were responsible for distributing commission checks.

So, with all of this explained, there was only one main question that I had. What was the name of this company? When they told me it was Amway, I was ready to walk out the door. This was the same company that had people selling soap door-to-door, right? Yep, it was the same company. I had heard of Amway before and it didn’t have a great reputation, but the company had been around since 1959, was still going strong, and apparently had gone through a lot of changes including incorporating technological improvements. They now had a website where business owners could process orders, track commissions, etc. After taking a few days to think about it, I signed up and paid my set up fee and also purchased a product start up kit at a discount. This kit also had several samples to use for demonstrations.

After getting an assumed name license for Jireh Distribution and opening a small business checking account, I began my training. My friend and his sponsors helped me get started. I attended business meetings, met some other Amway business owners higher up in our network, and started demonstrating Amway’s core products to my family, friends and coworkers. They particularly loved the detergent and would even reorder from me when they ran out of product. I made a few bucks from commissions, but nowhere near enough to quit my job (kind of sounds like my book royalties 🙂 ). My friend said that I needed to get some people to start their own Amway distribution business and get them to do the same thing before the money started rolling in. My best friend’s, sponsor’s, sponsor’s, sponsor (no I didn’t stutter) had recently quit his high paying job at DuPont because his network was so big that he didn’t have to work a traditional job anymore. That was encouraging I guess, but the three people that I thought would be on board weren’t interested.

I ended up attending an Amway convention in Kansas City that summer with my friend and his sponsors who I quickly became friends with. I think some of the sponsor’s sponsor’s sponsor’s sponsor’s sponsors were there too. We spent the weekend in Kansas City attending seminars and listening to testimonials from notable Amway business owners that had succeed in the business. We heard a lot of rags to riches stories. Each of these “Diamond Level Business Owners” had arrived in their million dollar luxury coaches and had them parked where everyone could easily see them. We arrived in an old minivan.

The convention was a lot of fun and it was even a bit inspirational too. As Christians we enjoyed some of the biblical principles that were incorporated in operating the business, so it almost felt like a retreat at times. We came back home to Texas energized with new strategies to build our businesses and I even managed to convince another friend of mine to start his own business. Awesome! However, he was the only person that I could convince. My other family and friends just started to get annoyed and wouldn’t answer my phone calls and would even avoid me because they thought I was either going to try to sell them something they didn’t want or need or try to convince them to join the business. My friend’s sponsor suggested that I try some cold contacting techniques that we learned. This basically involved approaching total strangers. Seriously? They wanted me to approach total strangers? While I was filling my car with gas one day, I decided what the heck. I approached a total stranger pumping gas on the other side of the gas pump, which resulted in the lady looking at me like I was completely nuts. She nonchalantly took my business card anyway. That was the one and only time I tried selling Amway to a total stranger.

Now some of my friends and family were still buying stuff from me because they liked the products, but I wasn’t very good with the whole multi-level marketing thing. After several months of work my multi-level network commissions totaled about $75 and my direct sales weren’t worth the time and effort either. When family and friends stopped reordering their products from me, I stopped caring and eventually quit the business. I told my best friend that it was nothing personal, and I did enjoy owning an Amway distribution business at first, but I kind of liked having friends outside of the business too. I was getting tired of having to talk about Amway all the time. I could only imagine what my friends and family thought. The one thing I learned very quickly is that the Amway business is a very high pressure sales business which I did not want to have anything to do with anymore. I’m not knocking Amway in general because their system works for the right people and their products are actually pretty good… It just wasn’t for me.

So, after taking off my small business hat, it was time to switch hats again and get back to working as an office drone. The following year while living in Austin, my friend told me about another business opportunity that he had started. This time it was a sure deal and he had already made $2,500 the first month! He said it was an independent business type of deal, and if I was interested he could guarantee me a spot on the team if I wanted it. He had already talked to the franchise business owner. I would have to move back to my hometown though.

After a lot of thought and prayer, I decided to put in my two-week notice at my current job and left the Texas capital city to move back to my hometown in the south Texas crossroads. Three days after I started this “awesome” business venture that my friend convinced me to quit my job in Austin for I realized that I had made a huge mistake… and my job in Austin had already been filled!

So, what was this new business opportunity of doom? Tune in next week for the next installment of “Adventures in Self-Employment” right here at Sharkbait Writes.

Cheers!

One of my goals as a working professional had always been to eventually leave the traditional workforce and operate my own business. I did just that in September of last year, and let me tell you as enjoyable as it has been, I’ve worn many hats up until that day that has completely transformed my vision in life. It’s been like an ongoing balancing hat trick while travelling down the different avenues of tradition employment, attempting one self-employment opportunity after another, maintain some sort of social life, finding time to write, trying to nurture myself spiritually, leisure time, paying the bills, and finding a way to balance it all out without going completely insane.

Building a business requires you to wear many hats to produce that all important stream of cash flow to pay the bills and save for the future. It requires a ton of hard work and a lot of trial and error. Working through those challenges has been part of the fun I’ve had working for myself, and I don’t regret my decision to leave my traditional full-time job in the rear view mirror. Living as an entrepreneur is something that has been a part of my DNA ever since I was a kid. However, daydreaming about what it would be like to be my own boss is one thing; making it happen and being successful at it is another. There is a lot of planning, research, and patience that goes with the territory. You also have to consider the fact that being self-employed often means working 12- to 16-hour days without depositing a dime in the bank account. A positive attitude and a strong vision is what makes a difference between keeping the momentum and pushing forward and feeling sorry for yourself and giving up. I’ve learned very quickly that you have to persevere, have faith and take it one day at a time in order to start seeing the fruits of your labor. And before you know it, those 12- to 16-hour penniless days will start to produce that all important revenue stream.

The Birth of an Entrepreneur

I was born to be an entrepreneur. I don’t expect to be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but I’ve always had that entrepreneurial itch. Just ask anyone I’ve worked with over the years. Ever since I was a kid selling lemonade in front of my home in the suburbs up until my recent career in the newspaper industry, I’ve always wanted to be my own boss. And I have made quite a few attempts in my life, some more promising than others, but they all eventually failed. The important fact is that I have never given up on that professional goal.

My first business venture involved a program developed for kids to learn business skills and personal responsibility. I can’t remember exactly what the name of this program was, but I do remember there was some sort of Captain America type motif in the marketing material. Anyway, my job was to sell stationary door-to-door to my neighbors. It was basically very similar to a school fundraiser, but instead of trying to raise money for a school function, my sales pitch involved the fact that I was learning how to run my own business and trying to sell enough to earn prizes. My “profits” were the prizes offered by this company, just like a fundraiser. I had a lot of fun doing it and sold a lot of overpriced stationary. I did that for about a year before I felt the prizes just weren’t worth the work; I wanted cold hard cash!

Make Me an Offer I Can’t Refuse

When I was a freshman in high school I started a “candy redistribution business” that was very successful while it lasted. My high school in Austin was located on the corner of a busy intersection in the middle of a business district. There was a grocery store across the street, so during my lunch breaks and after school I would go to the grocery store and stock up on multi-packs of Jolly Ranchers, bubble gum, and other candy that was available in bulk. I would then resell my merchandise as individual pieces of candy and made a big profit! Then a “friend” of mine took notice of my growing enterprise and decided to start up a “candy redistribution business” of his own, but he sold his merchandise a nickel less than me, thus stealing my customers. I now had competition that resulted in a nasty little price war, which cut into my profits and my relationship with this so-called friend. My solution? We formed a partnership, brought prices back up, covered more school territory and split the profits… that is until the school authorities found out about our little “illegal” operation. They shut us down and even seized our candy! Damn bureaucrats! So much for playing video games at the arcade across the street after school! That didn’t stop us, though. We just got stealthier in our sales and distribution techniques. That’s right folks! I was a rebellious candy-selling little mobster nerd! I wasn’t going to let “The Man” cut into my video game budget!

I probably would have had a whole underground network of candy-pushing mobsters with a couple of teachers on my payroll (maybe bribes with a chocolate bar or two would do the trick). But alas! At the end of my first semester as a freshman, my parents decided to open up a restaurant in my home town two hours away. Imagine the possibilities if I could have stayed in that school in Austin to continue my underground candy resell business! I could have had a global network by now with the Sharky Bar™ in every supermarket (that’s candy, not booze… although).

The Traditional Employment Bandwagon

Moving to the South Texas Crossroads away from my candy toting mob in Austin was just a bump in the road to small business ownership. It was only a matter of time before I put on another hat in search of the American dream. I was determined to never give up and keep trying until I found something that would keep me out of the status quo. I hadn’t even started my first “real” job yet and already knew that I didn’t want to be a worker drone, but I eventually got on the traditional employment bandwagon and did just what many of you reading probably did… I took a part-time job working at a fast-food restaurant. That lasted six months until money mysteriously disappeared out of my register and I was terminated. I later found out that the owner’s granddaughter and one of the crew leaders was stealing money, but I and a few others were fired for it. That was my first impression of the traditional workplace which took a bit of a toll on my self-esteem. The franchise closed later that year. That put a huge smile on my face. Justice! 🙂

During my junior year in high school I signed up for a business co-op program in high school, landed my first office job as an office clerk (gopher) at a chemical plant and was quickly transformed into an office drone. I worked in various industries and eventually made my way back to Austin to work for a birding tour company and travel agency. It was while living in Austin that the entrepreneurial bug bit me again. My best friend back home encouraged me to check into this awesome small business opportunity that was a surefire way to make good money working for ourselves. After explaining a little bit about how this business worked, he invited me to a meeting with his business sponsor. I did a little bit of research and discovered it was a legitimate business opportunity and I took the bait.

Next stop… Amway!

The End of a Career and Making the Right Choices

On Sept. 27, 2011 I ended a career in the newspaper industry after six and a half years of employment. Let’s just say there were some professional differences of opinion of some management decisions and a certain situation was so poorly handled that it finally triggered my decision to part ways with the company. As the obituaries coordinator and an advertising sales rep, I basically sold advertising to funeral homes and handled all aspects of publishing obituaries for the region. Without boring you with the details of the actual job, while it wasn’t the most glamorous job to have, it was a job that I really enjoyed, particularly in dealing with my business clients (the funeral homes). And before you comment about how it must have been a dead-end job, how the people I worked with were a bunch of stiffs, and start chanting “Bring out your dead,” as an obituary writer, I always got the last word. 🙂

All jokes aside, there was a lot involved in publishing obituaries on a daily basis. There was the death verification process; writing and editing; photo scanning and editing; maintaining the daily death notices column (basically a list of recent deaths with funeral home contact information), keeping up with every visitation, prayer service, rosary, funeral and burial in a 13-county area and ensuring every one of them was published on the correct day with the correct times and locations; coordinating with the editorial department to determine space needed for obituaries; and designing obituary page(s) accordingly. On top of that there was the customer service (both for funeral homes and families of the deceased), payments and collections, selling advertising to funeral homes, (deep breath) and processing memoriam ads. Yeah, it was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it.

So, why did I leave a job that I obviously enjoyed? Since this is a public forum, I’ll answer that simply with personal reasons that many people can probably relate with when the stress level in certain aspects of the job (the professional differences of opinion…I’m being very kind there) just wasn’t worth dealing with anymore.

After leaving a company that I used to love working for and planned to retire from, I found myself unemployed and stepping into the unknown. I didn’t have another job lined up, and I spent several weeks trying to find that right job. Nothing appealed to me in this town. So, I decided to take the self-employment route.

Transitioning to Self-Employment

At the time of my departure from the newspaper, I had been working on building a home-based business (with plans on opening an office at some point in the near future) on a part-time basis. I had actually started this business venture back in 2004 with resume writing services, general small business office support (similar to outsourcing temp work), and Photo DVD production. It brought in some extra income, but I didn’t put a lot of effort into it back then. I ended up putting the business on the backburner after starting my career in the newspaper industry, but now I have decided it is time to seriously focus on my dream of small business ownership. I knew there was a lot of risk involved, a lot of trial and error, planning, and long hours of development. A friend and former manager of mine has also been building a small business since 2001 while working full-time as a human resources director. She is now self-employed and focusing 100% of her effort in building her own business. So, we are now helping each other out. I needed a regular small business client to get the small business office support services “department” off the ground, and she obviously needed the admin support. Over the past few months, things have been working very well with only minor hiccups. We have a great system going that works well for both of us. Just recently, one of my former customers from the newspaper contacted me about helping them with a project. They have a full staff, but they just didn’t have time to create all of the documents needed in house. So, they outsourced the job to me. Today I received word that the owner wants to discuss hiring me on a part-time basis. We have yet to discuss details.

So, transitioning from full-time traditional employment to self-employment hasn’t been easy and has been a bit worrisome at times, and there have been times where I thought I made a huge mistake by quitting my job. However, while I still miss my old job and my customers, the “pros” of self-employment have far outweighed the “cons” at this point of the transition. The obvious negative aspect of resigning from my position at the newspaper is the steady paycheck. While the pay wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad either…not to mention benefits (which, to tell the truth, weren’t all that great anyway). However, the steady paycheck issue may soon be resolved to some degree if everything pans out well with the part-time opportunity I mentioned earlier.

What I have most enjoyed from self-employment has been the fact that I’m the boss (although, I can be a bit of a slave driver sometimes…I worked on a project until 2 a.m. last night!) and determine my work schedule and have a lot more flexibility in prioritizing and managing projects. If I decide I want to work in the evening, so I can take care of other things during the day, I can…all while still meeting any project deadlines. Working on my terms and not having to answer to someone else’s opinion of how they think my job should be done (or even as far as treating me like I don’t have a brain) has reduced my negative stress level to near zero. That alone has been worth it!

More Time for Writing

I think one of the most significant things that has occurred ever since I quit my full-time job at the newspaper is that because my stress level has reached much healthier levels, I have been able to focus more on writing. My participation in #WIP500 has been very successful so far with over 11,000 words written in my current work-in-progress (WIP). Granted these words may not be the greatest, but the story is unfolding at a nice pace. My focus is to just get the story written and then go back to polish it up, rewrite and cut out the unnecessary fat where needed.

It feels great to be writing again and I truly believe that 2012 is going to be the best year I’ve had in a long time. I’m not talking about financially, either. I am a firm believer that money can’t buy happiness and that you can be in a job that pays well, has great benefits, but if you’re not happy, then it’s probably time to rethink your priorities. I would much rather earn less and live comfortably, than be rich, stressed out and miserable. Obviously you need money to pay the bills, and the social aspect of many jobs is important too (one thing I do miss from the traditional ball-and-chain job), so I’m not saying quit your job and become a hermit. What I am saying is that if you aren’t happy with your job, if you have the means to explore other options that will make you happy, I say the least you can do is consider it. If you have a great idea for a business that you believe has a customer base in your area, do the research, and go for it!

That goes for writing, too! If you have a story that has been floating around your head for millennia, it’s not going to write itself. Just do it! Don’t worry about whether or not you think people will buy it or not. If selling the books is your main motivation for writing, then you are writing for the wrong reason.

This brings up another topic, which I will write about in next week’s post: “Why I am a Writer…”

I hope to see you there and thanks for taking the time to read my post. Cheers!

Update: It’s now the middle of 2013 and business has been doing well and throughout 2012 I worked on my first horror-thriller Devil’s Nightmare which I published in January 2013. Leaving my traditional job was definitely the best decision I ever made. 

SCRATCH LINE

Profile Photo (Cropped)Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

Pursue your dreams . . . and never look back.

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