Earning my MBA at Rady provided the much-needed perspective on how to achieve my professional aspirations. When I finished the full-time program in 2008, I knew it would take years for my aspirations to become realities, so I used my business expertise to help other entrepreneurs along the way. Working as a consultant by day, I toiled as a writer by night—and in the early mornings and through the weekends and over lunch breaks. I have completed two books and am currently working on a third. They are middle-grade novels (think the Harry Potter age category) but selling books in any genre is no piece of cake.
Luckily, the Rady School taught me how to understand the changing publishing market and craft a business plan to navigate that market (more on that in a moment). But that’s not the only thing I learned during my time at Otterson Hall. Time and time again, professors and guest speakers emphasized that enduring success flows from passion. Naturally, many of my Rady colleagues were fascinated with biotech, green technology, and I.T. startups; but my passion focused on education, publishing, and writing. As a result, my summer internship was with an educational publisher and my lab-to-market project began as a social networking site for book lovers. It ended up as a startup plan for a new division of the aforementioned educational publisher. Also, my first post-Rady job was with an educational software company. Undoubtedly, the experience in the education and publishing world gave me a certain edge as an author of youth fiction. Many authors consider the business side of publishing to be an incomprehensible black box into which you hope your book is granted admission and you pray it survives out the other side. But once the manuscript for my first novel was complete, I couldn’t simply apply for a job somewhere as a novel writer. I joined the ranks of aspiring authors by shopping my manuscript at workshops and conferences to attract an editor or an agent. After several very encouraging steps forward, my publishing dreams faltered in 2010 as an attitude of caution circulated in the air given the “big changes” taking off: e-readers, e-publishing, and self-publishing. To navigate the rapidly evolving world of book publishing, I made two major decisions in 2013.
Because of current market trends, editors and agents encouraged me to finish my third novel. Its premise consistently evoked strong interest from those who work for or worked with large publishers. Releasing my first two novels “into the world” would allow me to focus on finishing the third. With the advance of technology removing barriers to entry, I launched a publishing startup by creating my own brand and publishing my first two novels. With any startup, you build your wings along the way. My witch-themed girl-power novel, The Stargazer Journal, requires one type of 4P marketing approach, while my second novel, Crosshairs, a coming-of-age story set during a boy’s first season of deer hunting, requires a different one. I’m still figuring it all out, but as one might expect from a Rady grad, I love the challenge. Also, I’m implementing “quiet” promotion with Facebook promotions via family and friends, local author signings, and Amazon’s free e-book downloads. One could say that I’m working to attract the attention of venture capitalists, i.e. large publishers, who believe in my products. This is mostly commonly accomplished through an agent. But who knows? Amazon has started their own publishing arm and, given their panache for “disruptive” business models, they may skip agenting in their evolving model.
The second major decision I made was to pursue another master’s degree. Achieving excellence in the field of novel writing is important, but so is meeting the evolving educational demands of today’s youth. This is why a Master of Arts in Math and Science Education seemed a logical path for weaving several life aspirations together. I’m not the type of author who seeks to create sentences beyond reproach, so pursuing a literary degree didn’t appeal to me as strongly. I like to think I have a knack for picking up speaking styles, mannerisms, and social dynamics from my environment, and what better way to conduct market research than to be in a source-rich environment for creating authentic depictions of kids? (The primary rule about writing contemporary youth fiction is that kids should work with other kids to resolve a conflict.) Upon finishing my MA, I’ll be qualified to teach all sciences—physics, chemistry, life science, earth science— several math classes, and even engineering and IT at the high school and middle school levels. So in essence, I’ll have the opportunity to train future tech-savvy entrepreneurs while I write and research entertaining and informative novels for them. I stand behind the tweet from @RadySchool posted recently on their twitter feed: “Give value and serve others through your business. Be determined to make a difference.” I plan to make a difference in the lives of our youth, and Rady has given me the navigational skills to do that.
Richard P. Vogt is 2008 MBA graduate and resides in Long Beach, CA. His first two novels, written as RP Vogt, are The Stargazer Journal and Crosshairs. Follow him and his nerd-friendly posts on Facebook as richard.p.vogt and on twitter as @rpvogt. You can contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org.