On Frustration and Fulfillment
If you didn’t grow up rich in a third-world country, you would have to fight to make it.
You have no social security, no inheritance, no government support, and, many times, no family support.
It’s like you’re left to figure life out on your own.
When we start, we mostly have a beautiful goal in mind. We put in the work and the effort endlessly and tirelessly — just like the way I worked 12–14 hours a day for more than 6 months.
I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be financially independent to make all the decisions I want. I also like cars.
My favorite has been the Lexus ES350. I wanted this car so bad that I saw videos about it every night for almost a month, and I had it on a sticky note on my computer.
I had the mission to make $60,000 in 6 months.
All I needed was a way to achieve that.
Moving the needle to where you want to be, requires a game plan. Just like robbing a bank, you need to time every movement, estimate the chances of winning and know every inch of the bank’s premises.
I’m not a bank robber, neither do I intend to become one, nor even aid or abet one, but reading Robert Crais’ The Two-Minute Rule nine years ago taught me that one-second delay in a bank robbery increases the chance of getting arrested.
Veteran robbers leave the bank when the time is up no matter what they got.
But then, there are two enemies of human nature — fear and greed. Allow any or both of these to control you as a bank robber, and you’re toast.
My apologies, dear reader. I’m not sure my digression about bank robbery has anything to do with this piece, but I’ve been looking for an opportunity to talk about it for some time now.
When many of us step into the game of making money, we hardly have a game plan. We have a goal, but we hope that the waves would be nice enough to guide our ship right.
That was my story when I founded Woken. I first named it Woken! But most online forms don’t take characters like exclamation marks, so I ditched the mark.
I had just made some money working a long contract with a US-based Indian digital marketing agency.
I was supposed to sign a new contract with them, but some technical issues arose and I lost the contract, even though I already started the project.
This was devastating, but not to the point of me sitting on the couch all day eating cereal while seeing old movies. I took all the money I had and set out to start a digital publishing company.
Sometime in February 2020, I had a close friend who was interested in learning how to write for the internet. So, I engaged her with a series of writing tasks. She told me that she used to write stories a lot when she was young. So, I decided to test her fiction writing skills.
And she delivered. She wrote a very interesting mystery novella. I was stunned. I still have the story somewhere on my computer. The story was so good, I begged her to write a sequel. Maybe someday she will.
I didn’t know much about Amazon publishing, so I looked for a course online. I saw a digital publishing course for $600, and I didn’t give it a second thought before I whipped out my MasterCard and paid for it.
I was so excited about the course, and even though it was a little boring, I paid attention to every aspect. The course was going to be my path to success.
But then, the only thing they don’t tell you when you buy a course is that you’re going to spend more on practicing the things taught in the course.
I was however still ready to move ahead. I had spent so much, I wasn’t going to give up.
One book meant one source of income, two books meant two sources. I had my eyes out for a second book.
Fortunately, one of my classmates in university published a novel around that time. I had seen so much buzz about it online, and I decided to read it. It was a lovely Christian novel. It was about Love and Redemption. I loved it.
I reached out to the author to grant me some publishing rights since it was self-published. I told her how much she stood to gain if she did. However, she was so keen about owning 100% of her book that the negotiation dragged.
I remember telling her that she had nothing to lose if she published with me, but she had big dreams about the publishing platform she used. I told her that I was the first and only person to have bought her book on the platform, but she told me that she sold some copies during preorder.
As I write this, I just checked how many people have read the book since March of 2020, Just one, and that’s me. The platform shows you the number of reads a book has as you cannot read offline.
That book was a potential bestseller.
By the time she was ready to give me some of the rights, I was no longer interested in the book. Time is a factor in business, and with a small business with limited resources like mine, we couldn’t afford to wait.
I met some other writers for a short story compilation project that fell through.
Online Business 101
You need a good product, a marketing strategy, the right tools, and lots of money.
Woken Digital was able to produce just two books — they still bring in money, and I own 100% copyright, but the business failed.
I had very good products, a not-very-strong marketing strategy, some good tools, and not-so-much money.
Looking back, I wish I exercised my 30-days Money-Back Guarantee option, not because the course was not worth it, but it wasn’t the smartest financial decision I could have made then.
Nevertheless, I feel fulfilled in a way. I am an author of two published books — they’re not trending on any NYTimes Bestseller list, but when I think about the several people who have bought them, and none has returned any, I know I have contributed something worthwhile to the world.
And for the short stories, I am still going to publish them. This time around, I will bring onboard a marketing team and enough marketing money.
Woken Digital might have failed, but it is not about the number of times you fail, it is about the number of times you get back on your feet.