“If I hadn’t been 66 years old and had a $105 Social Security check coming in every month, I don’t know what I would have done. But for me it wasn’t a matter of giving up. It was just a problem of what to do next.”
Colonel Harland Sanders
Writing a book is hard. As it turns out, selling a book you have written might be even harder. I know because I have written two books, both of which have yet to make an appearance on the bestseller list. Speech Right: How To Write A Great Speech is a non-fiction instructional book based on my 35 years of speechwriting experience. The Guardian of Detritus is a comic crime novel set in my hometown of Detroit. They are good books that have yet to find an audience, but an unlikely sequence of events has given me new hope.
A few months ago I was walking through the Akihabara district in Tokyo, an area known for its electronic goods and pop culture artifacts. As I passed a KFC restaurant it was pointed out to me that I strongly resembled the statue of Colonel Sanders standing by the door. I stood next to him, took a photo and was amazed by the resemblance. With Halloween and my 66th birthday coming up, I joked that this would be my costume, but I wasn’t really serious about it. – until several weeks later in Charlotte, North Carolina.
To kill some time while my wife was shopping in a department store I headed to the Men’s Department to look around. I had no intention of purchasing anything but to amuse myself I decided that if they had a white linen suit I would buy it and dress up like the Colonel for Halloween. My thinking was that nobody sold white linen suits in October, but I turned a corner and there it was. It was a sign, it was synchronicity, it was on sale – I bought it.
I’m not normally a guy who wears costumes, even for Halloween, so to make sense of what was going on I decided to do a little research on the Colonel. That’s when it really got weird. It turns out his life was filled with setbacks and failures, until he found himself broke and wondering what to do next at the age of 66. I wasn’t broke, but I was turning 66 and wondering what to do next as a writer. His initials CS, my initials CS. Clearly the Colonel was showing me the way forward. So I shaved my goatee into a soul patch, put on the white linen suit and black bow tie, and had a fantastic Halloween. And now, inspired by his perseverance, I am determined to keep following in the Colonel’s footsteps.
At the age of 66 Colonel Sanders had one thing going for him, he had perfected his signature fried chicken recipe of blend of 11 herbs and spices. So he borrowed money against his social security check, bought and fried up some chicken using his recipe, and went door-to-door selling it to his neighbors. The rest is fast food history. At the age of 66 I have written two books, and have another on the way. The way forward is clear: I’m going to go from computer to computer selling them to my neighbors on the internet. Will the rest be publishing history?
I’ll let you know.