The Sorcerer’s Key: Fantasy, 288 pgs, mass market paperback. A dark sorcerer from Eden battles Jack Lightfoot for a talisman that will give him unrestricted access to Earth and her technology.
The It Can’t Be Done, No Way, You’ve Got To Be Kidding, Crazy Or Unbelievably Stupid To Try It, Handbook For Success: Motivational, 124 pgs, mass market paperback. Improve your life or business in small and simple steps.
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Competition closes July 31st, 2009
This month we welcome Clayton Bye as our Author in the Spotlight!
Lucille Perkins Robinson had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Bye.
LPR: Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What made you want to start writing?
CCB: I’ve been writing since 1993. I always wanted to write, but I lacked the confidence. It wasn’t until I became a public speaker (thanks to Toastmasters and Dale Carnegie) that I caught the writing bug. I did a lot of motivational speaking, and my customers and friends began to suggest I put the material into a book. That’s what I did. The book was called How To Get What You Want From Life, published in 1994. It still sells well today.
LPR: When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
CCB: Well, I’m disabled, so it’s not so much what I like to do as what I can do. I write, read, network, market my writing, listen to music, watch movies (and a little television) and spend time with my family. I used to be an avid fisherman and hunter. I liked walking too.
LPR: Were your parents/spouse/friends supportive of your writing efforts? Do they proofread your stories/books for you?
CCB: I didn’t get any support when I was younger. But my spouse and children have been terrific. I’m a self-publisher. No one reads my work for me, with the exception of my novels. My oldest son can’t wait for them to be published, so he snaps them up the minute they come out of my head. He doesn’t usually critique; he just enjoys the story. In the past, due to money concerns and conflicting timetables, I’ve been unable to successfully contract editors or proofreaders. I would edit my work repeatedly until I couldn’t find anything else to change. Then I’d put it out there. I’ve had no complaints and very few suggestions for improvement.
LPR: Tell us a little about Bare Knuckle MBA. Where did the idea come from and how did you develop it?
CCB: I wanted to write a condensed version of an MBA, something the average, small business person could use: you know, the guy or gal on the street. That made me think of street fighting, hence the title.
LPR: Bare Knuckle MBA is said to be your training package in book form. How different is the actual training package from the book other than the obvious difference of reading one and actively participating in the other?
CCB: First of all, my disability has progressed to the point where I’m not pursuing training work. With that said, the book outlines the business management model I teach, using my own business as an example. Should a customer decide to purchase the one-day training program which can accompany the book, I would spend a day showing them how the business model can be applied to their specific business and industry. That’s an advantage that can be quite substantial.
LPR: You promise all your employees that each will have specific tasks, be taught ways to economize expenses, and understand how each position in the company meshes with all other positions [p.41, BK MBA]. Does this mean you train each of your prospective employees in this plan before they actually begin working?
CCB: The answer is yes, when I can find those people. The business plan in the book states that I’m a sole proprietor with plans to add employees this year. I haven’t found them yet. I’ve worked on commission most of my adult life, and my employees will have to do the same. This is not something the average person is comfortable with. It’s too bad, really. Given my health situation, the people I’m looking for would learn how to run all aspects of a business and would have high earning potential.
Note: The previous comments are an example of why I stress the importance of an active business plan. Things rarely turn out as we expect. A small business must be able to change quickly, adapting to market conditions, personnel fluctuations or, in my case, reduced owner involvement.
LPR: You have a number of books in print. Tell us about them. Are they fiction or non-fiction? Do you use the Bare Knuckle plan to market each of these books?
CCB: The Bare Knuckle MBA was derived from my own business practices. So, yes, I have an active marketing plan for my books. And like the business plan, the marketing plan has changed to compensate for my increased disability. I can say without reservation, that the Bare Knuckle MBA is the only reason I still have a business.
As for the books? I’ve published four self-help books, one business text, a fantasy novel and an anthology of articles based on my travels around Canada while I was developing my philosophy of achievement. Your readers can sample and buy all of these works at http://www.claytonbye.com. My books come in both print and eBook formats.
LPR: Many non-fiction books lose their effectiveness by being replaced by books with newer ways of doing things. Do you allow your non-fiction books to grow old or do you revise them every few months/years?
CCB: My specialty is taking complex things and making them simple to use and understand. This doesn’t go out of style. Proof of this is my first book: it has been on the market longest and is my best seller. However, I never miss an opportunity to improve my products. When my supply of any given title becomes diminished, I use that opportunity to make changes and print a new edition. I’m proud to say that none of my books have yet required extensive revision.
LPR: In the Product List of your sample plan on page 58, you mention Back Room Sales of previous self-help publications with a list of those publications and their sale prices. What do you mean by back room sales?
CCB: I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work as a professional speaker. The term “back room sales” comes from that industry. When an author holds a reading, seminar, workshop, training session or even teaches at a college, he or she should always have a manned table at the back of the room which displays and sells books, audio books, videos, t-shirts, hats, whatever’s in their catalogue If you do your job as an entertainer and/or teacher, people will always flock to such a table at breaks and at the end of the program. This practice is often the difference between profit and loss.
LPR: I really like your attitude concerning the employees and shares in the company. Perhaps I said that wrong, so please explain how you like to deal with employees and benefits.
CCB: Employees who are given true ownership in a company always show more loyalty and tend to work harder. My employee career options and commission rates are such that it’s quite possible for any employee to earn as much or more than I do. I also believe that when company earnings are more than projected, employees have every right to share in the extra profit at levels equivalent to their contribution. I can make this happen because my entire business is defined in terms of money. I know where and on what and on who every penny is spent, and I know what and who earns each penny.
A business is a money-making machine. People form integral parts of that machine and must be maintained with care, diligence and an eye to the future. If that sounds too vague, Bare Knuckle MBA spells it out in exact terms, percentages and dollar figures.
LPR: When you’re discussing on page 81 the expected annual cash flow, you mention a disability. Will you tell us about this?
CCB: I have severe and unstable Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s in virtually every joint I have. I can’t walk more than a block, even with a cane. I can’t sit or stand for more than a few minutes at a time. I must recline, with my legs stretched out. I also have Bipolar Disorder. It was so out of control I ended up in a psychiatric ward in January of this year.
LPR: You mention getting into the minds of the consumers and you call it positioning. Writers try to do the same thing, but they call it branding. Will you explain positioning/branding and its importance?
CCB: Branding is a form of positioning. Both are marketing terms. Marketing has one function: to get into the mind of the consumer and stay there. When you think of Stephen King, you probably think of horror: he has captured that spot or position in your mind. Many people who think of horror also think of Stephen King: he represents a certain brand of horror. When writer’s (or any other business) promote themselves, they should always think in terms of “What position do I want to capture in this (market’s) person’s mind.” The answer dictates how you should sign your emails, the type of books you write, even the words you choose to describe yourself and your business.
Examples: What type of author am I? I’m an Independent Author. Who is Clayton Bye in the writing world? Author, Editor, Reviewer. Who is Clayton Bye in the business world? Business Consultant. What is Chase Enterprises? The company that increases profits. Define Clayton Bye in one word: Entrepreneur. Ideally, I should pick one position and market like hell. But I have a complicated business, and I’m different things to different markets. Ah well, that’s life.
LPR: Do you present this Business Plan to prospective clients or just to investors? Why?
CCB: A business plan is something you use every day. If you pull it out or construct it just for investors, you’re going to end up in trouble. Your business plan is a living, working document that provides anyone who looks at it a clear and comprehensive picture of your business. And like any other living thing, it will change over time. It’s up to you whether that change will be growth or diminishment.
LPR: Almost every writer is inspired by someone else. Does anyone inspire you?
CCB: Many people have inspired me: Artist Norman Rockwell. Author Damon Knight. Grandfather Bill Franklin. Philosopher Ayn Rand. Poet Robert Frost. Politician Winston Churchill. Singer Billie Holiday. Teachers of many disciplines. The list is extensive.
LPR: Let’s talk about the writing process. Where do you write: desk, outside, on a recorder to transpose later? Why?
CCB: I write on my laptop anywhere I can get comfortable. One reason is to reduce physical pain. Another is that I write like I talk; I’ve learned to type my mental conversations as they play out in my head. Third, I find it’s incredibly easy to edit on a computer. And, finally, I love Louis L’Amour’s statement,
“I could sit in the middle of Sunset Boulevard and write with my typewriter on my knees; temperamental I am not.”
LPR: When do you write – set times or as the mood moves you?
CCB: I’ve always written whenever I can find fifteen minutes in a row. This is fortunate; my BPD doesn’t allow me to concentrate for long periods of time.
LPR: Some writers keep a journal on the writing experiences for the book they are presently writing; making notes on the story, characters and etc., things that need adding or changing. Do you do this or something similar?
CCB: I’ve written so much for so long that my first drafts have tended to come out quite polished. However, my physical and mental problems have now reduced my concentration and memory to the point where I’ve begun writing everything down and putting each piece of information in an appropriate and easy-to-find reference file. I write reviews as I read the books. And I have a novel I’m now breaking into short stories that I’ll end up putting back together like a puzzle. Hope it works.
LPR: Who proofreads and critiques your work?
CCB: To date? Me. I have, however, reached the point in my career where I’ll be using professionals for critiques and editing. In fact, I just signed an agent contract today, and I also hired a critique service for the involved manuscript. I’ve evolved about as far as I can on my own.
LPR: Where do you get your ideas?
CCB: Anywhere and everywhere. I have enough ideas to keep me writing for a lifetime. It’s the development of those ideas that involves the work.
LPR: Do you use the Internet to check facts, or the library?
CCB: I believe in going to the source for facts. The internet can help do that more effectively than the library. You can find almost any contact information you could ever need on the net. You just have to have patience and a good work ethic.
LPR: Some writers say that they have to write a certain amount of words every day. Do you do this? Why or why not?
CCB: I never count words. I just sit down and write for as long as I have time and for as long as my mind and body will let me. Doesn’t matter if it’s 5 words or 500. And I don’t even care if it’s garbage that comes out. I think like a baseball player. Swing that bat enough times, in the way you know how, and you’ll hit a home run.
LPR: Do you ever have a problem with writer’s block? If so, how do you get past it?
CCB: No. See the last answer.
LPR: What one piece of advice could you give new writers who are struggling to write their first novel/story/screenplay/non-fiction book?
CCB: Write. Every chance you get. And don’t even think about editing until you get to the end.
LPR: Thank you for chatting with us. Please keep us informed as to publication of your next book.
NOTE: One of the facts mentioned in this interview stands out sharply in my mind and that is the fact that despite Clayton Bye’s handicap, he is working hard and realizing his dream. We all have a dream. We’ll all have to work hard to realize that dream. We must never give up.