It took me one year to write the proposal for my new book, One Less, One More™, and then after all that work, I didn't sell the book. Did I give up?
Lance Armstrong said, "Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever."
When I was around 8-years-old, inside every piece of Dubble Bubble gum came a small color comic strip called, "Fleer Funnies." If I collected 500 comics - that's 500 pieces of gum, mind you -- I was eligible for a free t-shirt featuring the comic's main character, "Pud." Figuring I probably chewed at least five pieces of Dubble Bubble every day, it took me over 14 weeks to claim my prize. I hurriedly packed my 500 comics in a big envelope and mailed them off, impatiently watching the mail every day, waiting for my t-shirt to arrive.
One week turned into a month, into several months, and still no t-shirt. Finally I asked my dad what to do.
After several minutes of questioning, my father asked, "Did you include your name, telephone number or address in the package? How are they going to know where to send it?"
What did I do? I started chewing more gum, collecting more comics. Even though the contest ended before I collected another 500 pieces of gum, I felt great. First, I learned a valuable lesson and wouldn't make that mistake again (one less), and I was inspired (one more) to chew more Dubble Bubble gum and blow bigger bubbles!
Over ten years later, I took the train from Philadelphia to New York City's Pennsylvania Station. Taking the elevator up to Seventh Avenue, this guy, just a little older than me, asked if I had seen a brown wallet on the ground. He told me a heart breaking story about traveling to see his sick mother and that someone had either stolen his wallet, or in his confusion, had lost it. "Can I borrow $10?" he asked, genuinely distressed. "I promise, when I get home to Mom, I'll send you $15 in return."
I was touched by his appeal, and feeling compassionate and charitable I gave this young man my address, phone number, $10, and sent him off with a hug and well wishes for his mother.
Okay, I was scammed. But I forgave him (one less), and reminded that every experience is the seed for greater opportunity, which inspired me (one more) to become more charitable to those truly in need, specifically the hungry. Today, three of my favorite causes are The Farm Sanctuary, Save the Children, and The Heifer Project.
Current day: From the first light of inspiration to write my new book One Less, One More™ -- Discovering Lifelong Peace, Happiness and Success One Day at a Time, the underling premise always remained the same: To change your life and the world around you, do one less negative thing, and one more positive thing, every day for the rest of your life. Simple idea, big results.
I initially thought I only had two choices: Either, completely write the book and sell it; or, I could write an inspiring non-fiction book proposal, sell it to a creative publisher I admired, and together we would create a wonderful book, a call to action for people, businesses, and governments all over the world.
Since I prefer collaboration, I chose to write a solid book proposal. This was going to be fun. I would get the proposal to Paul, my literary agent, who would quickly sell it to a major publisher, who in turn would send me an advance, which would allow me to spend the next couple months happily completing my manuscript, and soon enough I would be surfing Amazon.com to find my book listed in the top 100 bestsellers. Hello, is that Oprah calling?
Okay, I can be naïve sometimes.
Still, I was certain I'd get a publisher for several reasons. First, I've been using One Less, One More with my high-profile clients for years and know it works. Secondly, I've got a good 20+ year reputation and solid platform, and although like a shrink I can't publicly identify my famous clients by name, over the years I've appeared regularly on TV and in other major media as an advisor for crisis and reputation management. Plus, as a former journalist, I can write. Also, for years I've helped so many of my friends write their successful non-fiction book proposals, I was sure I had the formula down pat.
I really thought selling my book would be easy. I was wrong.
For one year I worked on the One Less, One More proposal. I outlined the chapters, wrote a compelling and inspiring sample chapter, made sure my marketing plan was perfect, didn't oversell my bio, yet made it clear I was qualified and capable to write this book, and promoting the project would be my new full-time job.
Bottom line: this version of my proposal didn't sell.
Do you think I quit? I tell my clients all the time: The only difference between a winner and loser is the winner gets up one more time.
One last story.
I was a boy scout. One year to raise money, our troop held a pretzel-selling contest. The winner, the boy selling the most amount of pretzels, received an official Boy Scout of America sleeping bag. I wanted that bag. In my mind, it was already mine.
Every day after school, until after sundown, I walked the streets of my Levittown, PA neighborhood, selling pretzels in Red Rose Gate, Cobalt Ridge, Snowball Gate, Forsythia Gate, Juniper Hill and Upper Orchard. Prior to cell phones, it was not uncommon for my father to light up a Lucky Strike, get in his Chevrolet Corvair, and drive the streets, calling for me to stop selling pretzels, and come home for dinner. I was determined to become the Boy Scout Pretzel Selling Champion.
One of my Boy Scout friends called me just hours before the end of the contest and asked the number of pretzel cases I sold. He told his grandmother, who in turn bought from him the same number of pretzel cases as I sold, plus one. He won. I came in second and won an official Boy Scout of America knapsack.
My parents were furious. I wasn't. I told them not to be angry (one less), because I confidently (one more) knew I had sold more. I was grateful for my knapsack, proud of my accomplishment, and my parents felt better. One less, one more!
I lost $10 to guy who scammed me at Penn Station, but my conviction to share my abundance with the hungry remains strong. I didn't win the pretzel selling contest, but I won the integrity and persistence competition. My book proposal initially didn't sell, and you'll soon read in my upcoming blogs, it's all for the best. And one day, I'll own a Pud Dubble Bubble t-shirt. I'm sure of it.