Carol J. Amato is an award winning author of 26 books and 200 articles in national magazines. Four more books are due out in 2018. Two nonfiction, a science fiction novel for adults, and a middle grade mystery. Carol also coaches entrepreneurs on writing nonfiction books based on their expertise and she's the owner of Stargazer Publishing Company.
NOTE: Complete transcript available at the bottom of the page.
Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 020
Internet Marketing Training Center – https://imtcva.org/
Higher Education Webinar – It's the second webinar on the page: https://screwthecommute.com/webinars[01:28] Tom's introduction to Carol Amato [02:19] What Carol does [03:34] A regular summer job [05:18] Entrepreneurial family [07:05] Advice for the miserable cubicle dweller [10:02] Tips for writing a book [14:32] Clients who refuse to pay! [15:13] A bizarre situation with a Russian boat [18:32] Having control of my time but no paid holidays [20:16] Using Carol's services [22:10] Sponsor message [23:04] A typical day for Carol [25:39] Keeping motivated to continue writing [27:20] Parting thoughts for us Screwballs
Higher Education Webinar – It's the second webinar on the page: https://screwthecommute.com/webinars
Screw The Commute – https://screwthecommute.com/
Carol's website – http://www.caroljamato.com/
Carol's books – https://www.amazon.com/Carol-J.-Amato/e/B001JS4JTU/
Top Writing Coach website – http://www.topwritingcoach.com/
Internet Marketing Training Center – https://imtcva.org/
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Episode 020 – Carol Amato
[00:00:08] Welcome to Screw the Commute. The entrepreneurial podcast dedicated to getting you out of the car and into the money, with your host, lifelong entrepreneur and multimillionaire, Tom Antion.
[00:00:27] Hey everybody it's Tom here for Episode 20. We have a heck of a writer here and I'll tell you about her in a minute. I just want to mention my last episode 19 where I really laid it on you on how to create quality products from nothing. And I do mean quality. I don't put out or advocate shoddy work. So you got to check out Episode 19. Now our sponsor is the Internet Marketing Training Center of Virginia. This is a distance learning school that can get you highly marketable skills in about six months without burying you in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt as the traditional school would. It's great to retrain yourself if you're an adult and it's super great start for young people that don't want to party away the next four years and then get a job slinging coffee and driving in a junk car. Check it out at IMTCVA.org and we'll have that in the show notes.
[00:01:28] All right. Let's get to the main event. Carol J Amato is an award winning author of 26 books. Imagine that 26 books and 200 articles in national magazines. Four more books are due out in 2018. Two nonfiction a science fiction novel for adults and a middle grade mystery. I'm not sure what middle grade is I'm sure she'll tell us. I don't think it's like a halfway good one. Carol also coaches entrepreneurs on writing nonfiction books based on their expertise and she owns Stargazer Publishing Company. Carol are you ready to screw?
[00:02:11] Yes I sure am. Screw that commute, that is.
[00:02:16] So tell everybody what you do.
[00:02:20] Ok. Well as you mentioned you know I'm an author actually have 28 books out now. Oh my God. So it will be 32 with the other 4 200 articles in national magazines as you mentioned. I'm also a business writer an editor a coach a publisher and a speaker. As a business writer I make complicated information easy to understand and that applies to user manuals policy and procedure manuals proposals reports brochures social media posts marketing materials etc.. Because having professionally written and design materials can make a small business look like a Fortune 500 company.
[00:02:58] So people hire you to write those kinds of things for them? Yes. I write them for them. And that's not counting in your 28 books right?
[00:03:07] Oh no no that's totally aside from that. As you mentioned I also show entrepreneurs speakers coaches and other professionals how to write books based on their expertise so they can increase their credibility. Be the go to person in their industry and make more money.
[00:03:23] Yeah writing is certainly very highly credible. Really opens doors for you right. Absolutely.
[00:03:31] Now did you ever have a regular job.
[00:03:35] Well I did during the summers in college but when I got divorced I had two kids that were 4 and 7 and my freelancing career at that point didn't pay enough to keep the mortgage paid. So I expanded the business into technical writing and back then you know aerospace was booming here and we had lots of small software development companies.
[00:04:00] Where are you located? In Orange County California.
[00:04:04] I didn't like the idea of having to put my kids in daycare and then be locked up the best 40 hours of my week in somebody else's office. So I come from a long line of entrepreneurs so I decided to start that technical writing business. And I was able to get a lot of work. I mostly wrote proposals and software user manuals back then and there were some really interesting things though that I worked on because of the major aerospace companies and projects that were going on at the time. For instance the launch first strike software manual for the Polaris sub.marines. I worked on the space station proposal.
[00:04:43] Is that all confidential stuff where you had to have a clearance? Yes. Wow. Do you have to kill me now because now I know about it? No, because I didn't tell you anything about what was in it. Oh ok, thank God.
[00:04:56] I also worked on proposals for solar power satellites which of course never really came to fruition unfortunately.
[00:05:03] Wasn't your fault probably.
[00:05:04] No it's not my fault. That's politics for you.
[00:05:08] All right so you've been screwing the commute a long time. I didn't realize that. Oh yeah. Forever. And I didn't know that you came from an entrepreneurial family. Tell us about that.
[00:05:18] Oh gosh my grandparents came over here all four of them from the same town in Sicily where they've known each other for hundreds of years. The families and they came to the United States in the early 1900s and set up businesses right across the street from each other.
[00:05:35] And then my dad was self-employed all my uncles and aunts while my aunts didn't work but my uncles were self-employed a lot of my cousins are and some of them have built multinational corporations at this point. Yeah there's just most of my relatives are self-employed. My brother owns an ad agency.
[00:05:53] You wouldn't know what to do if somebody stuck you in a cubicle, would you?
[00:05:56] Oh, the thoughts of it. You know I did When I consulted on site in aerospace I had to sit in a cubicle and the noise pollution in those buildings because they're built so cheaply and linoleum floors and no soundproofing you can hear that actually those buildings are so big they used to drive forklifts up the hallways and people would roller skate around the building and ride bicycles in order to deliver things. So it was a horrible environment and the energy level was just non-existent. It was so awful.
[00:06:32] Just a lot of slugs sitting in cubicles.
[00:06:35] Oh yes six weeks you know that was about all I could handle.
[00:06:38] But at least you knew you were getting out. Oh absolutely.
[00:06:44] So if you were advising someone with all this experience you have on the let's say the outside of jail. They're sitting in jail in a cubicle and they're listening to this and thinking oh boy what a life she's got. You don't have to answer to anybody. What would you suggest to people that are thinking that.
[00:07:06] OK well the first thing is I would commend them for thinking about starting their own business. But I would tell them that at least if they didn't have enough money in the bank to support themselves for at least six months to a year to start the business on the side and then phase over as the income increases and warrants the ability to switch. But they also have to be proactive. They can't wait for business to come to them. They need to go out there and do what used to be called pound the pavement. Even though that's a figurative you know phrase at this point you have to market and whether that's in person or online like for example when I started my publishing company after technical writing went kaput in this area when aerospace all got shut down and the software development companies all went out of business because Microsoft took over. You know I had a book called the world's easiest guide to using the APA which is not nighttime reading by any stretch of the imagination. It's meant for college students in psychology criminal justice education nursing and business to format their research papers and the original books were for that for most of the style guides are meant for the PhDs who are writing for the professional journals so they don't take into account the lower division undergrad who needs to just have something simple to format their paper with. So I took my technical writing skills and created user friendly versions that would take them step by step through the creation of the paper and the citations and the references and give examples which the other books didn't do. And so I went around to all the college bookstores because we have a gazillion colleges and universities in Southern California and I met with all the bookstore managers I should say and the librarians and got them to order the book.
[00:09:08] And then one school ordered the entire first print run to hand out to their faculty which gave me the money to print. That was 2500 books so it gave me the money to print 5000 more which I then sold to the schools. And I've sold you know like 80000 copies of that book and now my sixth edition is just about to come out.
[00:09:27] So you saw a hole in the marketplace. Yes absolutely. And you filled it. That's basically what you did right. Exactly. I have to dispute something with you. It sounds like that first book was night time reading if you had insomnia and you needed to go to sleep.
[00:09:42] That would definitely put you to sleep.
[00:09:46] Give people some tips about if they would like to think about it. Certainly writing a book is something they can do outside of work in the evenings in the mornings on weekends. And that could help them get motivated get started. Give them some tips if they're thinking about writing a book.
[00:10:03] Ok. First of all you've got to have a good topic that you know people are interested in buying. There are lots of ways to check that out. You can go to the bookstore you can check what's on the shelves. If there are books on that same topic How is yours different unique and a different angle to the same information. Maybe you can see where those books are lacking and then write about that.
[00:10:29] But that's a good thing that there are books on the topic that shows that there is a market.
[00:10:34] Exactly right.
[00:10:37] And you want to create an outline. If we're talking about nonfiction now not fiction.
[00:10:44] Which is way easier than writing a novel. I mean I don't have the brain for that character development plot and all that. Yeah totally different. How to is much easier and easier to sell too.
[00:10:55] Absolutely the how tos are real big sellers. So you want to create an outline a chapter outline and then you want to write so that outline and you can do this in a multitude of ways you can record your information on a tape recorder you can use post it notes with your main points and put them all over the wall and switch them around as you think. One topic goes under another better.
[00:11:23] Don't put them all over the wall at work.
[00:11:26] Yeah. Take them home.
[00:11:28] That outline is the big key because once that outline is nailed down and as I say again this is for nonfiction you can then just fill in the blanks. But the big key when you get it done is to have it professionally edited and without an editor to make sure that all your sentence structure is correct your formatting meaning your grammar and spelling and punctuation and the logical flow of the information and there are repeated words etc. It's a big key. I belong to several writers critique groups and we go through our manuscripts every week. We each read each other's stuff and comment on it while the person reads and then we comment as we go through the manuscripts. And so we get all that feedback as we're going.
[00:12:15] Carol I can't believe the brains of these editors because when I had my first major book published the editor came back to me and said Tom this sentence on page 220 belongs probably on page about 40 right here. How did you figure that out? It's impossible for me to think like that. So yeah editors will make you look like a million bucks.
[00:12:40] Oh exactly. And so that's a real critical issue and that's something that I see lacking in a lot of the self published books that I've seen both fiction and nonfiction. They are not edited at all and either the plots are terrible and the fiction as a result or the nonfiction book doesn't make any sense because things aren't in a logical order.
[00:13:02] Or you lack credibility with misspellings and typos and all kinds of things that a decent English major would have fixed for you. It's very difficult to critique your own stuff too no matter how good you are.
[00:13:14] I mean you know in your head exactly what you meant to say but the reader does not get that from what you put on the paper.
[00:13:21] So there's a lot of benefits. I imagine you teach people you know what to do with these if they did have a nonfiction book to help them in their business.
[00:13:30] Oh absolutely. That's exactly what I do. My coaching program starts with that idea creation goes all the way through to the finished manuscript and then the next program is publish your book which just tells them all about how to publish both traditionally and both self published too.
[00:13:50] I mean this could open a lot of doors that can make speaking engagements and you can have bulk sales and library sales and all kinds of things. But all of them have a lot of details.
[00:13:59] Yes and there's a lot of tricks to getting those books in the libraries. You have to have what's called a catalog of publication information. But I don't see that in a lot of self published books and they're acing themselves out of the library market.
[00:14:14] Not a big deal if you know what you're doing just to get that. It's a little extra step that you have to take and if you didn't know about it there your book is suffering and you're clueless about it. So that's why people like Carol are great because they are all over that for you. So have you ever gotten screwed in your business.
[00:14:32] Oh yes. You know I had a couple of clients who refuse to pay despite having contracts so I had to take them to court. But I won both times and then another client wouldn't pay so I held the manuals hostage until they did pay but it took four months to get the money and it was 50000 bucks so it was worth holding out for.
[00:14:54] Nobody wins in these things you know their credibility is shot. You have to suffer to get the money. Sometimes lawyers. There's no winning with people that are unscrupulous. That's for sure. On the other side of the bizarre crazy funny things happen to you.
[00:15:13] Oh yeah. Well this is not in business. I thought people might want to hear this. I spent a year at sea on an oil tanker and a bulk carrier. Six months on each one and my ex husband was the chief engineer which is like Scotty on Star Trek. And so it's a subject of one of the books I'll be writing next year. And we traveled from Europe to the Persian Gulf and back twice on the oil tanker and then from Japan to South Africa and back twice on the bulk carrier and it was 36 days at sea without seeing land each way. You lose track of time. All you know is it's daytime or night time you don't even know what month it is.
[00:15:57] When you got off that boat did you have those sea legs where you know you weren't walking right or is that only on a smaller boat.
[00:16:03] Oh no that's true. Once when the ship stops and it's at a dead stop and those engines shut down you feel like your feet are glued to the ground. You can't move. It's very odd. One of the most interesting experiences we had though is when the ship broke down. That's a long story and all part of the book, I'm going to write, where we came into Japan and there was no room in the shipyard for us to tie up so we had to tie up next to a Russian ship. And so we had to cross their ship to go ashore and the Russians the officers all spoke English and they were really nice. They invited us over for a party and then they found out that I was an American and about died on the vine. The next morning one of them showed up at my cabin door with candy and flowers and books about Russia in English that were sent over from the Kommissar because they had a Kommissar on board because none of the actual crew members or officers were members of the Communist Party. They were forced to stay on the ship. They couldn't go ashore with us. And they really learned a lot because as they told us they had been brainwashed against the United States thinking that we were these you know just locked away in prison all the time that they were the free ones. And they realized when they saw us coming and going as we pleased that we were the free ones and they were the ones who were locked up.
[00:17:34] Were they meddling in the elections at that time. Oh no I don't think so. And that's really cool. I thought you meant the Russians were embarrassed because you were on there and they were going to get in trouble for talking to an American.
[00:17:52] Oh no. No but they joked. I mean I don't know how they could joke the Kommissar called the first officer when we were having the party in the captain's cabin and he's going "yes comrade yes comrade". And then when he got off the phone he said I better go see what this guy wants before he sends me to Siberia and I thought how can they joke about this stuff but they did. I guess that was their way to survive it.
[00:18:22] Dark humor as nurses and cops and a lot of people use that as a survival mechanism. So what do you like best about working for yourself and what was the worst part.
[00:18:32] Oh the the best part overall is having control of my time because I can schedule things as they fit in for me.
[00:18:40] But do you really have control of your time it sounds like you write 24/7.
[00:18:45] Well okay but that's me controlling the time. It's not like I have to be in somebody else's office from 9:00 to 5:00. I can't do anything you know other than that during that time if one of my kids has something going that I need to go to in the daytime I can schedule that in. I like being my own boss. I'm not one who likes being told what to do.
[00:19:05] I know that feeling.
[00:19:07] And the commute here is the biggest thing because in Southern California anybody who's been here 30 minutes to Anaheim from here. However during the morning if you're in that rush hour commute it can take you three hours. And being on those freeways is an absolute nightmare. And it's gotten to the point now where it doesn't matter what time of the day or night the freeways are loaded with cars 24/7. It is it's terrible. So that that really probably is the best thing not having to commute and being able to work you know remotely via the computer is such a boon and has been for the last you know what 20 some years. So it's great.
[00:19:53] What's the worst part.
[00:19:54] Ok. Well you don't get any paid holidays and no paid vacations. But I'll tell you the pros definitely outweigh the cons by a mile.
[00:20:02] Can't you hit your boss up for bonuses. Yeah I'll have to talk to her one of these days.
[00:20:09] How can people use your services. What do you got. If somebody would think about writing a book what things do you have to offer.
[00:20:16] Well I have my write your book program program 101 which is getting you through the writing process even if you think you can't write a book. You can if you have the right instruction and the right coaching it goes from idea creation all the way through to the finished manuscript which is then you know you phase over into the publish your book course from there. Then also my book Maximize your competitive edge which is 17 secrets to make your small business look like a Fortune 500 company. And if you're starting up in business or even if you've got one going but you're not quite sure if you're putting out the right image that book would be a tremendous help to you. And I can give Tom the link to that.
[00:21:08] We're going to put everything in the show notes.
[00:21:12] And so it's available on Amazon it's 14.95 and then the companion book to that which I'll be working on later this year is maximize your visibility which is all about exhibiting at book fairs and trade shows on a shoestring budget. Which ones to do. Which ones to stay away from and how to make sure that when you have a show scheduled it's one that's going to bring money in.
[00:21:36] Yeah that's always a good point. Now is there a Web site yet?
[00:21:40] Yes. There's topwritingcoach.com. But as I mentioned to you Tom I've been doing the writing program locally. I have not put the course itself onto the Web site but it will be up in a few weeks.
[00:21:53] So it might be up by the time they hear this, so that's no problem. As long as we have links and Larry will keep in touch with you for the show notes on whatever the most current stuff is.
[00:22:04] Okay great. We are taking a little break for our sponsor and we will be right back.
[00:22:13] Today, almost two billion of you will go online retrieving over 100 billion searches for information, goods and services, and 6 million of you will view a page on the internet before this commercial is over. The world has changed and so is the way we do business. At the Internet Marketing Training Center, you can study online at your pace to fit your schedule, and you can graduate with the skills and knowledge to compete in the global marketplace or start your own home based business. Call us today or go online at IMTCVA.org. Because, it's about time. Yours.
[00:22:41] We are back with the prolific prolific writer Carol Amato and she's also a person that's taught way many people I don't know how many people that she's taught to do books that help their careers. So Carol what's a typical day look like for you.
[00:23:05] Well I am not a morning person so I am up at eight. Which to me is early. And in my office which is right in my house.
[00:23:15] How many seconds is the commute?
[00:23:17] Oh maybe three or four seconds. Well it takes me longer than that to get downstairs. OK let's say 60 seconds.
[00:23:26] And on Monday and Wednesday mornings and every other Friday morning I attend my writer's critique groups which I mentioned before and these are groups of professional writers who get together to read each other's manuscripts and get feedback. And it's amazing that you'll take the manuscript to one group. And get the feedback make those revisions take it to the next group and they'll find a bunch more stuff to comment on.
[00:23:50] Usually just nitpickers stuff but it's enough to just make you know some concept not understandable or some sentence that needs to be moved or is awkward. So it's such a help and I encourage anybody who wants to write a book to get into a critique group and it has to have at least one professional writer in it. So then the rest of the day I'm either writing or working on revisions or coaching people or planning marketing campaigns and the workday usually ends about 10 or 11 and or until I fall over in front of the computer. AM? No no PM unless I have meetings or social events to attend and on the weekends it's work family time and kids sports baseball, which we do all year round and lacrosse and so it's fun.
[00:24:45] Do the kids help in the business at all? Unfortunately not. Well they have their own interests. I know what that's like. But I was just thinking you know I had a practical joke entertainment company a long time ago I don't know if you knew that. Oh I remember you talking about. I just couldn't help but thinking of when you were talking about that writers group that I would come in let's say as somebody that came in from out of town from Europe that was a prolific writer had won lots of awards and then I'd start reading some of my stuff but it was just total garbage. And watch the looks on the faces of all your friends that think that I'm a big shot. I would just love that.
[00:25:30] So how I guess you stay pretty darn busy but how do you stay motivated. What makes you want to sit down and go ahead and write that thing when, Boy I'm tired.
[00:25:39] Well I guess I'm lucky on that score. But I think the writers groups definitely keep us on our toes because we feel like we have a deadline even if it's artificial.
[00:25:53] So that keeps us motivated but I've never really had any trouble staying motivated.
[00:25:57] I have trouble running out of time during the day. But I do credit a high school English teacher for that motivation and that fortitude and I never had a class in either college or graduate school that was more demanding than his class was.
[00:26:18] Do you ever thank him for it?
[00:26:20] Well I located him last year and unfortunately he died in 2012 so I never really got a chance to tell him. He hated my writing by the way.
[00:26:31] Yeah there's so many stories that people say you're never going to make it is what you're doing. Do something else and then they're a big superstar.
[00:26:38] Well he felt very embarrassed when I won the all city team contest. And you know he had to announce that to the class. But anyway he was a very good teacher. It was a college prep class and he ran it like a college class and I swear we read every book that was ever printed in the English language.
[00:26:56] I don't even know what you're talking about when you say AP class.
[00:27:03] Advanced Placement. So they're college prep classes. Yeah I was up till 2 and 3 in the morning every night doing homework for that class.
[00:27:13] It keeps you young and off the street.
[00:27:17] So you got any parting thoughts for all the screwballs that listen to this thing.
[00:27:21] Yes I would say that you would love working for yourself if you aren't already. You won't have a boss a manager or a supervisor telling you what to do and you'll have control of your time. If you're a parent you won't have to miss any of your kids daytime school events. Just be sure to do your market research before you start a business to make sure that there's a need for it. And don't forget that even if you think that you're going to be able to get out of the childcare costs you won't you need even if you work from home you can't have kids interrupting you while you're on business calls. It's just not professional so you are going to need some daycare time of some sort. Unless your kids are in school and you can do everything during their school hours.
[00:28:09] Well and if you really miss the corporate world you could probably buy yourself a water fountain and go over and gossip to yourself.
[00:28:16] Well hey make those corporate people your clients instead. So you can hang out in their offices and go to their Christmas parties.
[00:28:25] And have them give you big checks that you then take home and laugh all the way to the bank. Well Carol, I'm so thrilled. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to our screwballs and everybody make sure you check out in the show notes all Carol's offerings and if you've ever even thought about doing a book or something. Give her a call. Find out what's involved then get busy. You can't knock her credentials with going to be 32 books this year and hundreds of National articles which in themselves are great publicity so she's the bomb.
[00:29:00] So this has been episode 20 of screw the commute podcast. Don't forget about our sponsor IMTCVA.org that's also in the show notes. Check out our Webinar on is college really worth it. A lot of the academics don't like me for that. But there's some bad stuff going on out there and I don't want you to waste four years and blow hundreds of thousands of dollars and then work at Starbucks. So check that out when you're over there.
[00:29:28] Yeah I don't know if you'd see that webinar Carol.
[00:29:33] Yes, I did. You made some excellent points. Having taught college myself for several years, I agree with you.
[00:29:40] I mean it wasn't just me. I cited lots of references of highly placed academic people that are willing to say how screwed up things are so I want you out there making money and not be buried in debt. And I have a way to do it, but there's lots of ways to do it. That's why we're on this podcast. You hear lots of different people and I've got to stand back for a second. Just stop and think. Carol was a single mom. Is that correct? Yes. And just decided, you know what, I'm not going to just go on welfare. I'm not going to just lay down and die. I'm going to go out make something happen and that's when she found a hole in the marketplace filled it and kicked herself off in a career and is enormously great career that she's created for her and her family. So we need more people like Carol in the world that's for sure. So, thank you Carol. Thanks Tom.
[00:30:35] All right. So everybody check out the show notes. And we will catch you on the next episode. See ya later.
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