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Monday, January 31, 2022

My Community Is Beginning to Look Like a Third World Country

    I’ve been blessed to be able to work from home and at the office on a hybrid schedule each week since the pandemic started. The Metra is virtually empty most days when I catch the 7:45 a.m. train, and there isn’t much more of a crowd on the next train at 8:18 a.m. The ride is quiet, and it gives me time to focus on my daily routine of duties as a paralegal for a law firm in downtown Chicago. It also gives me time to reflect on my life in general and on what the future may hold for the country and the world as a whole in the midst of COVID-19.

Wasteland

    It's a thirty-minute ride from the Riverdale stop at 138th Street to the Millennium Station stop at Michigan and Randolph. I usually stop at Dunkin Donuts for a doughnut or turkey sausage and egg sandwich, and then I’m off to the AMA Plaza building where I work on North Wabash Avenue. The street is practically empty on my saunter down Wabash, even during the summer in the heart of tourist season. The grinders have all but ceased as most of the downtown workforce have opted to create office space in their living rooms or spare bedrooms. I arrive at the AMA building and scan my ID at the front desk, say good morning to a couple of security guards and make my way to the elevator. It’s only 8:33 a.m. when I arrive on my floor, so I wait an additional twenty minutes before I clock in moments before my nine o’clock start time. I then take off my coat and head to one of the kitchens to make myself a glass of iced tea. I see the usual suspects in their respective offices and cubicles, and I greet all five of them―my office is practically a ghost town just like the streets. And that’s the beginning of my day in a nutshell.

    Like millions of other Americans, I’ve learned to adapt to this present environment even though I feel most days like a fish out of water. And I ask myself countless times: What’s the endgame? Will I survive? It’s to the point now that I see businesses fall by the waist side on a monthly basis―the Shoe Carnival, which was one of my favorite shoe stores in the River Oaks Mall, folded at the start of this year. Numerous restaurants, clothing stores, and small businesses didn’t survive the pandemic, and my neighborhood is beginning to look like a wasteland as vacant and boarded-up storefronts have become commonplace throughout the community. I’m afraid to think what the country will look like in the next five years with a failing economy, food shortages, and the threat of WWIII.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Indie Authors Are Essentially Small Business Entrepreneurs

    Authors who publish books independently are solely responsible for production of the book cover and the editing, formatting, and marketing of their books, for example. Self-published authors are also responsible for paying taxes on the royalties of their books, and there’s fundamentally no difference between independent authors and small business owners. Advertising platforms like Amazon Advertising and Google Ads have made it possible for authors to market books on a grander scale online.

    I’ve consistently advertised my bibliography on Amazon and earned a profit for the last three years, and I’m constantly looking for new ways to market my books both online and offline. Commercials on Internet radio and blogging are two alternative forms of marketing that I’ve used to sell more books with marginal success, and my long-term goals were to rent kiosk space at my local mall and to attend various book fairs in the Midwest region before COVID-19 struck.  I’ve also encouraged my readers to leave customer reviews on Amazon by adding a personal note of thanks at the end of each one of my books.

    Indie authors must liken themselves to small business owners to have a sustainable level of success in their writing careers. The ultimate goal should be to write books full-time, and this is a slow and methodical process for most authors. However, with hard work and perseverance, writers can steadily add novels to their booklist and increase sales and monthly revenue.

Five Ways Authors Can Perfect Their Craft in Writing

     The only experience that I had in writing before I wrote my first book was a creative writing course taken in my first year of college ...