Ethical Business Grows

Hushed whispers of silence fall like autumn leaves. Barely a rustle on the faded light and muted walls. Cool air fights in wet ringlets against the tropical heat.

Books-A-Million, just before six. A hush has descended in the mega-book store and the atmosphere feels like a quiet library save that there is no stern librarian hushing in the background. The silence is broken by the frothy hiss of a cappuccino machine instead.

This was a hot, humid summer’s day in Naples, but I was cool sitting in front of my table near the Joe Muggs coffee shop and waiting for my first book signing to begin.

The weather was steamy. The air conditioning chugged away so where I sat was cold. Had it not been for my publishing experience, I would have been even more chilled. Book signings can be scary!

This lesson looks at how an ethical business grows and the fine art of how to get creamed trying to market fiction through retail bookstores. We could sum this lesson on how an ethical business grows by just agreeing, “Do not do this”. Or we could title this lesson “Temporary Madness.” At first glance this advice would seem sound. Careful study though will show that it is not. There is a profoundly important message about success guidelines for business.

Let me digress. This lesson may seem odd and not about how ethical business grows as it weaves ideas about creating fiction with thoughts on demographics. One idea (fiction) seems so ephemeral, the other (demographics) so cut and dried.

Yet there are qualities in the fiction I wrote that were affected by a huge demographic wave. The fiction and the demographics affected how an ethical business grows and as my fiction publishing event began to unfold I saw that this novel was so shaped and propelled by this shift that it would be accurate to say I was not the writer/publisher.

Ethical Business Grows Key

The fiction wrote me. Please remember these words. They are a key! “As a publisher, there may be times when a business or a book or report writes you!” At such times you may feel alone, bewildered, lost or doing something that makes no sense at all. Sometimes this is how an ethical business grows. At such times you have to continue! Just because you have to do it. Then you may need these words to know that what is happening is the way that an ethical business grows and this is simply part of the creative process and is okay.

When an ethical business grows it is often born and takes a life of its own. You just have to follow!

This was my case as the demographic shifts we are about to study had a profound impact on our publishing business. Rather I should say life had a profound impact on me (as it did 50 million others). I became part of a new subculture. This also had a profound impact on my publishing business.

Ethical Business Grows Lesson

These shifts were so entangled in my novel that looking at why, as well as how I wrote it could help you in business. Stick with me through what may seem a weird lesson.

During the period as my ethical business was born and grew I was totally out of focus with my readers. That was okay. In the end the shift was worthwhile. Seeing why may help you avoid some of the doubts, the self-searching and bewilderment I had.

Back to Books A Million and the book signing. I arrived early. Do this if you ever write a book or have a book signing at a bookstore. Assume that no one will know what is going on, not your publisher, not your publicity agent and certainly not the staff at the store.

Fortunately I had visited the manager just a few days earlier so I had names and knew that my books were packed away somewhere in the store. The manager was not on the premises (she did arrive later) and no one knew a thing. Yet the clock continued to tick. I wanted to get ready, but the staff did not care. They were used to hurry up and wait at book signings. Why rush to set up a table that no one would visit anyway?

I knew something the staff did not, so I dropped the manager’s name a few times, assured them that my books were there, and that I was having a book signing (see the sign on your window-guys—that’s me). I asked where they kept their tables and Merri and I set it up ourselves. Acting as if we knew what was happening, we managed to get everything assembled in time for me to grab a Latte before the crowd arrived.

And a crowd did arrive. I knew they would. I knew because I was a publisher (i.e. salesman). I knew because I had a list of readers in the Naples zip. I knew because I had been offering these readers books, reports and seminars for years. I knew because I had offered these readers a FREE workshop if they visited with me at Books A Million, 6 to 8 PM on a Friday night. I knew because I had sent thousands of these letters or more. Hey I was prepared!

We sold nearly 100 books. Ka-Ching, about $2,000 in the store’s cash register. The manager of the store was impressed. I’ll explain in a moment why I never made a penny from this. I lost about $300 for the effort.

Sometimes an author never sells a book at a signing. Yet during the launch of my novel I did dozens and was never skunked. In Canada we only had five people show up at one small store, but that was the worst on a week day afternoon. Watch out for the burbs during the week! Bad time, bad place.

Yet there were several memorables. We packed the house there in Naples and did even better in downtown Portland (Barnes & Noble), Vancouver B.C. (Chapters) and Orlando (Borders).

What is important about these signings is the way we got the readers to the signing, how each cost me an arm and a leg, but how every penny has been worth it and how I also recouped the loss. Lots of leaning here.

To begin we need to understand how this novel came about and why.

Merri and I were in Naples and we had earned a small fortune, for us at least, more than we ever expected. Millions. We had been busy doing this for years (instead of spending) and we did it from our home (few overheads) without staff (even fewer overheads), so a lot of the money that floated by, stuck. After a certain point, each extra dollar became more and more like the sixth cup of coffee in the morning. Not too exciting.

You either understand this or you don’t. A lot of that has to do with demographics. (I’ll explain in a moment.)

So Merri and I started to itch. Something had to be scratched, but we did not know where. The itch grew yet remained hidden. This resulted in a process many of our friends called “temporary insanity”.

At that time we had the perfect life. We owned a wonderful seven bedroom house in Old Naples, one of the most modern, perfect cities in the world. We had our comfortable mountain cabin in North Carolina that sat deep in the forest on a rushing creek. This was one of the most traditional areas to get away and recharge.

Plus to really get away there was a condo on a crescent beach in the Dominican Republic, where everything was different and worked outside the Western box of normalcy. We could have been called creative.

We traveled globally, getting to London several times a year. Other cities regularly visited were Paris, the Prague, Copenhagen, two or three Caribbean stops, all in the name of business, tax deductible trips. Everything was paid for and profitable. No mortgage, no losses, no debt. Our children were happy, healthy and all but one had finished their higher education. We had everything we had imagined and more… until it started… that itch.

I thought it began inside me, but see now that it really was an outside force moving both Merri and me along. We were like light bulbs thinking the light was ours.

This was first noted at the Victoria, Canada airport. We had taken nearly a month off for a deep purification-meditation session with an Indian healer at his remote home on Salt Springs Island. While there this vague itch began to focus itself. There was no big picture yet (this would take over a decade to resolve), just one tiny first step. I realized we needed to sell our house in Naples and move on. I say this was a tiny first step, but actually this was huge! Merri and I loved this house. Second, our kids had scattered to the four winds. Fran was in Costa Rica, Cinda in Portland, Ele in London and Cheri and Jake with us in Naples. When one is continually on the move and the family scattered, the grounding of home is important! Our seven bedrooms now were perfectly located in the middle of Portland, London and Costa Rica. Seven bedrooms had worked just right, one for Merri and me, one for granny and one for each of the kids.

Then there was the third problem. We had nowhere to go. What would we do? Live in a tent? I should have asked this question before I scratched my itch in Victoria at the airport. I’ll explain why in a moment, because it has a lot too do with the novel.

First the demographics. I explain them and introduce the book the “Cultural Creatives” in the next lesson. Use the arrow below to proceed.


P.S. For details on our courses about how to succeed in business that we conduct at our farm go to

Gary & Merri Scott have green investments in their North Carolina Farm (Merrily Farms) and Ecuador Plantation (Rosaspamba) shown below:

“Merrily Farms in the Fall”

“Rosaspamba’s Virgin Rain Forest”

Ethical Business Grows