When I was just a child, I always loved reading story books with big pictures and large words that really caught my attention and made me think about the amount of creativity it took to compose such brilliant and unique characters and scenery I consistently witnessed after turning each page from the beginning until the very end.
I greatly enjoyed visiting my local Barnes & Noble and Walmart to look at the newest books written by Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, two of my favorite authors during that period of my life and still to this day. I never really knew how authors wrote books or what it took to get them published by traditional publishing houses, but what I did understand was that writing a book, no matter the subject, took months or even years to plan and release. Though the process appeared dry and extremely complicated, I gradually formed the desire to become an author when I grew older and decided that I would do whatever I could to make my dream come true. So, like other children my age, I invited a hobby into my life that would eventually be transformed into a career that would forever provide my “earthly purpose” with meaning and understanding to a point where I would be able to present my own opinions and express what I was feeling or thinking through the use of the written word.
Between the ages of seven and eleven, I would visit my biological father’s house every other weekend under the enforcement of the divorce papers my mother had jointly agreed to when she left him for bigger and better things actively occupying her time. I never wanted to play or even interact with my stepbrother or stepsisters while I was there, for I found that if I wrote short stories covering various subjects such as mental disorders, crime, or war, it would consume a majority of the two days I would spend there and allow me to focus on something other than maintaining a relationship with a family I didn’t want to join or even be affiliated with. Over the course of four years, I wrote in total thirty-five short stories, each ranging between ten to twenty pages in length. I literally had stacks of notebooks piled in the corner of my bedroom at my mother’s house, imaginative yet engaging products I created while in the company of people whom of which resented me and thought by me writing and never talking to anyone other than myself was an illness and a dimwitted distraction from reality. Fortunately, what I would come to comprehend years later at the height of my career, was that they were terribly, terribly wrong.
When I turned twelve, I was still attending Indian Trail Middle School in Addison, Illinois, the very first public school I ever attended. After being enrolled in the Catholic school system since the first grade and then suddenly transferred to a place of learning filled with violence and corruption, but absent religion, dedication, respect, and responsibility was quite shocking for me, especially since I didn’t know how to cooperate with the environment thriving around me. All though my start at junior high was rough, I eventually figured out how to engage in conversation with fellow students and formally answer questions my teachers would ask me during class. One educator in particular would make such a powerful impression on me that, in the future, changed my life for good and made it possible for me to succeed as an author for years to come. Every day after school, I would visit my teacher, Ms. Oberman, in her office located in the basement of the school where I would read her every short story I wrote and every one I had ever written. She would always pay such close attention to me and ask me logical yet critical questions that would ultimately alter the way I told stories and exchanged peculiar ideas with my readers on the opposite end of the page. Writing short stories was everything to me and it was what I was best at, but it wasn’t until Ms. Oberman challenged me to write poetry that I discovered my calling and how I would apply it to both myself as an individual and as a young artist.
The night following the challenge’s proposal, I sat at my desk and gave birth to my first poem titled, “Judgment, ” a piece in which would and has continuously stood in my collection as my oldest yet most prized creation. Without even knowing, my mind instantly accepted this new style of writing and provided me with enough mental strength to write more of them throughout the following two years that would inevitably lead straight into my Freshman and Sophomore year at Addison Trail High School in Addison, Illinois. All my high school teachers and classmates knew I was working towards something groundbreaking, but never exactly understood how I was going to compile my work or in what form I was planning to release it in.
Though I received support for almost everyone I knew, ridicule and disgrace followed my image closely and would eventually push my emotional and mental state over the edge and force me to commit myself to a mental institution for an excess of ten horrific days accompanied by meager meals and abhorrent sights. Countless supervisors helped me see the other side of life while I attended their facility and lent me their companionship as I dug deep within my soul to find a way that I could move onward from the drama I experienced at school and achieve the dream I had always desired to not only relive, but merge with reality. A book is what I would need to create in order to expand my thoughts and fears to such an extent that would permit my body and spirit to overcome my past and envision an enlightened and successful destiny.
At the start of February 2011, I took the fifty-two poems I had written throughout the last three years and combined them into a single collection that I soon came to title, “Celestial Inferno: Poems of Another Realm.” While confined in the mental institution, I had battled demons on both sides of the supernatural spectrum; the celestial heavens and the inferno of hell. I wanted my readers to sense the pain, sorrow, and frustration I sustained while struggling on my path to become an author, a journey in which the average person cannot possibly understand until they have actually traveled through it for themselves.
The tools in which Lulu Press Incorporated, the print book publisher I initially chose to work with and still work with to this very day, gave me the opportunity to reach over one million potential customers with a few clicks of a button without requiring any form of payment for their service. Publishing my poetry on Poetrynation.com and receiving recognition as one of the top three hundred and five finalists in the United States for the first contest I ever entered was one thing, but making my written work available to the entire world was another, a step in which at the time I wasn’t ready for, but made anyway without even the slightest thought of reconsideration. The response my friends and family had in direct result with my first book’s publication was breathtaking and gave me the courage to press forward and continue writing and publishing as many books as I could possibly forge.
Following the initial release of my first collection, “Celestial Inferno: Poems of Another Realm,” I spent every waking moment dedicating myself to my writing and within just six months, I wrote, published, and marketed three more books: “Peacefully Poetic,” “Scribed Asylum”, and “Southern Style.” Now, I knew I was composing poems faster and more efficiently than I ever had imagined, but it just seemed so right, and it was definitely something I would not stop doing until I reached a minimum of at least twenty or more collections of poetry. Four more titles emerged after my fourth collection’s release through Lulu Press Incorporated, but were never published due to the fact that they were rushed and contained dull and incorrect language that would cripple my image as an author almost instantly if they were made available for public purchase.
I came to the unfortunate conclusion that it was time to take a break from writing and focus on promoting myself as an author for a change, not individual poems published in each book I previously released into the marketplace. Between 2011 and 2013, I focused on expanding my image on the internet by consistently reaching out to local newspapers that would be interested in writing stories about my achievements and send press releases to mainstream media sources such as writing magazines and local news channels. Originally, I only managed a Facebook and Twitter page that I would regularly use to market my books online, but as time passed, I accumulated over forty social profiles spread across over two hundred social networks worldwide. The goal was to create an established network that would allow me to share details about my career as it progressed and samples of new books I would be releasing in following months through Lulu Press Incorporated. I felt depressed because I went nearly two full years without writing a single poem or book, projects in which I need to focus on in order to aim for greater success and inspiration.
My biological father, in result of the works I had published, decided to write his own poetry collections and self-publish them, not through Lulu Press Incorporated as I had suggested to him, but through Smashwords Incorporated, one of the world’s largest and prolific eBook publishing and distribution companies in existence. He told me that eBooks were the wave of the future and that I would need to translate my books into their digital forms in order for me to survive as an author and reach as many potential customers as I possibly could. I told him that I would think about it and after a few weeks of considering my options, I agreed to his proposition and began creating the eBook versions of each collection I ever published through Lulu Press Incorporated as print books.
It took me nearly a full month to ready my titles for publication through Smashwords Incorporated, but when it was finally time for me to distribute them, I became so giddy because at the last moment, my father had told me that Smashwords held standing partnerships with major retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, iTunes, Diesel Books, and Baker & Taylor. Having been such a regular Barnes & Noble visitor as a child, it made everything so surreal that I couldn’t believe that my poetry would be accepted into one of the largest bookstore chains on the planet at no cost. Up to this point, I didn’t spend any money to write, edit, publish, distribute, or market any of my books, which made it much more exciting because luck directed me in such a way that connected me to the right companies, taught me how to correctly and successfully publish a book, and helped me develop a strategy to become a moderately recognized author without having to pay a single dime.
Going back to the launch of the eBook versions of my published titles, once they were reviewed, accepted, and listed by each retailer Smashwords promised me it would submit my books to, I began to see an increase in sales for the first time ever in my entire career. My father was right. The future of publishing is surrounded by the digital realm and will continue to expand and dramatically change in ways that consumers never thought would ever be possible. Now that my father encouraged me to release my books into a different yet booming marketplace, I yet again felt stimulated and prepared to tackle another project and produce my next book, which in the following month would be titled, “Horrific Paradise.” The way people responded to my fifth collection was astonishing and got me so excited that during the summer following its publication I composed yet another that I unexpectedly came to call, “Molten Sunset.” My fifth and sixth book were the first two collections of poetry I had initially published through both Lulu Press Incorporated and Smashwords Incorporated in both print and digital form. I was now reaching two very lucrative marketplaces tethered to the publishing industry, but I felt that the distribution channels I connected with weren’t enough to make me famous, so I developed an idea that I believed to be impossible, but would soon turn into something so unimaginably real.
Creating audiobook versions of my books would be the next move I would have to make in order to improve my image as an author, but to find an actor or professional narrator that would be willing to read my books seemed far from reach, though when I conducted my own market research, I discovered the Audiobook Creation Exchange, a subsidiary audiobook publishing and distribution company owned and operated by Amazon. The Audiobook Creation Exchange allowed me to create my own profile, list my books on their website as “Open Projects,” and invite narrators to audition for them individually. At first, I privately messaged almost fifty narrators that I thought had powerful voices and could potentially be qualified applicants to record the audiobook versions for each one of my published titles.
I figured that if I remained patient and periodically checked my message inbox that some of the narrators would at least respond to the project offers I posted, but unfortunately, not one narrator out of the fifty ever contacted me. As I began to look away from the audiobook market and prepared myself to accept yet another loss, one narrator named John Grunewald auditioned for my book, “Peacefully Poetic,” and after listening to him read just one of my poems, I fell madly in love with his voice. So, I reached out to him by privately sending him a message on the Audiobook Creation Exchange and within just a matter of a few minutes he replied to my inquiry, sent me his phone number, and we have remained production partners ever since we spoke for the first time. Now, the Audiobook Creation Exchange allows its authors and narrators, once they have formed a partnership, to choose from two different distribution options. The first option was to pay a hefty sum of money for each hour of audio the narrator recorded and only retain twenty-five percent of the net royalties from each audiobook sold, a path I was not willing to venture down, but the second option proposed that for every audiobook sold, the narrator and the author would split the net royalties fifty-fifty and never require the author to pay the narrator money for their work out of pocket.
At that point, John and I signed a contract to create the audiobook versions for all of the books I currently had published and all of the books I would publish in years to come. It took nearly three months for us to create the audiobook for, “Celestial Inferno: Poems of Another Realm,” and about another four to create the audiobooks for the remainder of my published collections. Whenever someone asked me about the process or whether or not it was difficult to go through, I would and still say that it is like shooting a movie, for not only to do you have to capture the raw audio, but you have to edit it, pack it into a single file, and trigger it for publication and retail distribution, steps in which take weeks to execute properly. It was great to see my books released as print book, eBook, and audiobook products and be sold by literally dozens of prominent retailers, but I felt as if I was publishing books just to publish them and that I had reached a dead-end in my career, but ever since I released my first book, I had an epiphany that I held onto and at last carried out that shaped my image into the way that it is today.
After a poet has written so many poems and doesn’t know what to do with all of them, they take the risk, combine them together, and publish them together in a single collection, a strategy in which I use quite often, but what if a poet took all of their poetry collections, combined them together, and published a bigger collection, so massive in fact that it would go against traditional publishing methods. My family, friends, and even colleagues told me not to create such a “monstrosity,” but I felt that their opinions were flawed and excessively targeted my innovative drive, so I decided not to listen to them and published my seventh poetry collection titled, “Ironic Perfection: Poetic Works of Aaron Ozee.” My seventh book was the first collection of poetry I had ever initially released in print, digital, and audio form, an achievement in which stood sturdy yet magnificently unique on its own.
I knew that if my seventh book was ever going to become a success, I would have to resort back to my initial publisher, Lulu Press Incorporated, and enable their Global Distribution Package to submit my title to Ingram Content Group, the largest content distribution company in the world. After taking some time to ensure that my book met the distribution requirements Lulu Press Incorporated listed as mandatory specifications that all books enabling their Global Distribution Package had to have, I uploaded the final manuscript, designed the cover art, created the book description, and triggered it to be sent over to Ingram Content Group to be distributed to all of the retail outlets it held standing relationships with. I remained as enthusiastic as I possibly could and hoped for the best, but after several weeks, I didn’t recognize any additional success, which led me to feel foolish and unworthy to call myself an author. I felt that my family, friends, and colleagues were right and truly knew what was best for me, it was just up to me to listen to what they had to say and apply their advice at some point throughout my life. Again, depressed and sensitive, I tried publishing my eighth collection of poetry titled, “Beloved Supremacy” in the following winter, a book in which I thought would loosen to the blow my career sustained after the initial release of my experimental title, but yet again, things unfortunately didn’t work out the way I wanted them to. I didn’t know how to react to my failures and almost convinced myself to give up writing entirely, move on with my life, and solely concentrate on school and other work, but that’s not what I wanted to do, that’s not the dream I had as a child, and that was certainly not the fate I had in mind for my career. The events that would occur next changed the game for me and pointed the odds in my favor after so many unsuccessful ventures and routine durations of depression and regret.
Today, “Ironic Perfection: Poetic Works of Aaron Ozee,” is a bestselling title and was ranked by Lulu Press Incorporated on its 100 Top Bestselling Products List as the 12th bestselling title under the Poetry category of their online marketplace. My books are listed with some of the largest retailers in the world in over one hundred different countries such as Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Amazon, Abe Books, Alibris, Book Depository, Powell’s Books, Biblio, Flipkart, Half Price Books, and many others that stand as the most respected booksellers spread across the globe. As an author, I have been featured on notable websites such as The Boston Globe, The Daily Herald, Publishers Weekly, CBS Moneywatch, Google, Bing, and Yahoo News, Publishers Newswire, The Houston Chronicle, My Suburban Life, The Lombardian & Villa Park Review, and in countless other publications that are both nationally and internationally recognized inside and outside of the United States. I privately own and operate my own company, Ozee Holdings, a published asset management group and content protection port that I have designed to secure the reproduction and distribution rights to all physical and non-physical properties I have ever created.
None of this would have ever been possible without Lulu Press Incorporated and the services it has offered to me since the very beginning. Writing is everything to me and without it in my life, I think I would have gone insane over a decade ago, but with the support of many industry professionals and curious readers my journey through the realm of self-publishing has never been more thorough. Many publishers have aided my venture’s cause and propelled my image in directions that I never thought could be maneuvered, but thanks to Lulu Press Incorporated and all that they have done for me, now more than ever, I can live and continue to relive the dream I held so close to my heart as a child so very long ago.
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Article is Copr. © 2014 by Aaron Ozee and originally published on PublishersNewswire.com (a publication of Neotrope®) – all commercial and reprint rights reserved. Reproduction or republication in whole or in part without express permission is prohibited except under fair use provisions of international copyright law.