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You remember that time I didn’t blog/podcast for six months straight? Well, I’d like to introduce you to the culprit, Trucking Life: An Entertaining, Yet Informative Guide to Becoming and Being a Truck Driver. Try saying that with a mouthful of mashed potatoes.
This just-released ebook has somehow managed to be both a labor of love and the bane of my existence for the past decade. But first, I guess I should explain what Trucking Life is about and who it’s for. Actually, let’s just give you the short version. (for the full description)
Obviously, Trucking Life was written for people interested in becoming truck drivers, but it was also designed for those who just have a passing interest in truckers and their lifestyle.
Naturally, I’ve written it to be informative, but also to be funny so you don’t nod off and drop your phone on your face while reading it, or worse, drive off a bridge while you’re listening to the audio version. Yes, you heard that right. I’ve turned this 208 printed page book into a 9.25 hour audiobook (there is a link to the free audiobook in the Appendix in the back of the text version).
If you’re already familiar with the Trucker Dump podcast/blog, you know what to expect. For those of you who aren’t, let me steal a phrase from the Trucking Life sales page.
Trucking Life has a conversational tone, using a light-hearted mix of stories from the road, opinions, facts, helpful tips, and some other random stuff that I like to call humor. You’ll have to be the judge of that. Just don’t ask The Evil Overlord’s opinion on the subject. As my wife of over 20 years and co-driver for nine, she’s already heard everything funny I’ve ever had to say and would just as soon stuff a dirty sock in my yapper than listen to me trying to crack another funny.
And for all you Evil Overlord fans, you’ll be happy to know that many of the stories involve the mean ol’ wench and her evil tendencies.
I’d like to explain one more thing here. I’ve often been asked who I work for and I’ve never told. I’ve always said that I want to be able to talk about my job without calling out my employer or getting myself into trouble. But another big reason is because I don’t want people coming to work where I do simply because they think, “If it’s good enough for Todd, it must be a good company.”
Now I know that sounds egotistical, but one thing that I’ve learned doing the Trucker Dump podcast/blog is that people assume you’re some kind of “expert,” despite the fact that I’ve repeatedly said I’m not.
So anyway, Trucking Life is another reason why I’ve always been so secretive. I knew going into this that I didn’t want the readers to think I was trying to influence them one way or the other. If I named my company and they chose to follow my footsteps, I’d stand to make money from driver recruiting bonuses. But since no one knows who I work for, there’s no chance of that. Quite honestly, I’m shocked that I had the foresight to realize this when I started the blog in 2009. My feeble brain usually can’t think past the next mile marker.
But enough about that. You can read all about the book on the Trucking Life sales page, as well as get a free sample of both audio and text versions. I’m writing this post for a different reason.
When you spend over 10 years toiling over a book, you kind of want to share your pain with others.
So that’s what I’m going to do. I hope you brought some cheese to go along with all the whine. I’m really digging Gouda lately. So how do I start?
When The Evil Overlord and I were considering becoming truck drivers way back in 1997 (full story in the book – TEASE!), I looked for information about it both online and in libraries. There really wasn’t anything. Sometime in 2005, I remembered this and rechecked the situation, thinking someone had surely filled that gap. There were a few options, but I thought I could do better.
To put this in context, I started writing Trucking Life in Word Perfect on my Dell Inspiron laptop running Windows XP, which kinda makes me cringe now that I’m a die-hard Apple junkie. But hey, I hadn’t entered the Steve Jobs reality distortion field yet. I worked on the book every time The Evil Overlord and I had time to sit somewhere. Being a team operation, that was rare, so fast forward three years to 2008 and my first draft was finally done.
At first, I thought I’d go the traditional route of signing with one of the big publishers.
I thought with my style of writing, a “Truck Driving for Dummies” type book would be perfect. But after learning the odds of being picked up, I started thinking more about self-publishing.
Well, let me tell you that it didn’t look easy. There was the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) to deal with, not to mention the process of converting it to an ebook format and dealing with distributors. That was enough to make me put it on a shelf. I think part of it was also that whole “fear of failure” thing.
I tinkered with it on and off for the next few years, but honestly I was just too lazy to put all that work into a book that probably wouldn’t sell very well. It is a niche market after all. Keep in mind this was all before I started blogging in 2009. Actually, I think being in the habit of writing was kind of what prompted me to start writing the Trucker Dump blog in the first place. Although back then, it was actually called the About Trucking Jobs blog. How catchy is that? Not.
I started getting serious about the book again somewhere around 2010, when I noticed websites like Smashwords popping up. They offered to do all the heavy lifting with converting the book, in addition to distributing it to Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a bunch of other retailers. Sure, they all take a cut of the sales, but I’m not going to get rich off this book anyway, so why should I give a rip?
That’s when the perfectionist in me kicked in.
I’ve already told you that it can take me five or six hours to write a 2300 word blog post. Heck, it wound up taking about 8 hours to get this monster post just the way I wanted. Yes, seriously. Thankfully, this whole perfectionism thing is reserved for writing. I’m pretty laid-back about most other things. But what do you think I was like writing a full book? Yea. It wasn’t pretty. If I remember correctly, the first draft was around 120 printed pages.
When I went back and read it, I was disheartened to say the least. The book was okay, but I realized it was far from complete. For one thing, it was horribly out of date already, especially concerning anything having to do with technology. There was also the fact that The Evil Overlord was still my codriver when I started it, but she had quit driving by the time I got back to it. So I needed to add a bunch of stuff I learned being a solo driver.
Unbelievably, I had also left out some blatantly obvious topics (the list of topics covered here) so I went through and really flushed the book out. Again, The Evil Overlord was off the road so I had a bit more time to write, but like I said, when it comes to writing I’m slower than a sloth on Qualudes. After that first “flushing out” was finished, I decided to do one more pass (or so I thought) focusing only on adding as much humor as I could muster.
By now, 2012 is rolling around and I had decided to turn the Trucker Dump blog into a podcast.
And let’s not forget that I did a complete website design and platform change while all this was going on too! Well, here I was recording 90 blog posts and making them into podcasts. That took about a million years, but when it was all done I was quite happy with the results. You can see where this is going.
Yep. I thought “Well, I’ve got the recording process down. How hard could it be to turn Trucking Life into an audiobook?” Well, in theory, it wasn’t that hard. But again, my perfectionism kicked me in the junk.
You see, I accepted the fact that my podcast audio would have some background noise. If it didn’t, I’d never get a podcast recorded. But an audiobook is different. I’ve listened to lots of audiobooks and you really don’t want any distractions in the background. Not if you want to be taken seriously anyway.
That meant that I didn’t record any of the audiobook in my truck. Instead, I got approval from The Evil Overlord to spend much of my home time locked in a closet (keep your gay jokes to yourself please). And in case you’re wondering what that’s all about, you get better audio quality when you have materials on the wall that absorb sound, like clothes hanging in a closet. It’s a great poor man’s recording studio if you ever need one.
Anyway, keep in mind that by choice, I usually only go home every three weeks. So you can imagine how long the recording process took.
The good thing is that I only needed to do the recording at home. I could edit the audio in my down time on the road. So that’s what I’d do. I’d record a chapter or two each time I was home and then I’d edit them on the road. There are 21 chapters in the book, so you do the math. And of course, I didn’t get to record every time I was home.
The Evil Overlord had spent nine years on the road with me, so she could live without being with me the whole time I was home. Besides, she sleeps longer than I do, so I could usually get some recording done in the mornings before she got up. Honestly, I couldn’t record more than a few hours every day anyway. When you barely talk to anyone for three weeks you get hoarse easily. Who knew?
Granted, I didn’t notice this at first. I discovered during the editing process that if I had screwed something up, I’d need to rerecord a sentence or two the next time I was home. It’s amazing how blatant those edits were! If I was even the slightest bit hoarse, I could clearly hear the edit points. It drove me crazier than a hoarder at a flea market, so I learned to never record to the point where my voice was giving out.
I mentioned that I could work around The Evil Overlord’s schedule, but the nephews were a different story. They were still young so they were usually up before I was. And since they were so young and naive, they thought I was kinda cool. That meant they wanted to be around me from the second I woke up until we all went to bed. Can’t blame them I guess. I am pretty awesome and stuff. 😉 Funny how time has changed their enthusiasm about me.
So anyway, I finally got all 21 chapters e dited and I used an app called Audiobook Builder to make it into an 6-7 hour audiobook with chapter markers. I transferred it to my iPhone and listened to it while driving. That was both a mistake and a blessing.
It’s amazing how you notice things you didn’t before when you absorb the content in a different way.
It happens all the time with my blog posts. I proofread them in the WordPress Editor and everything looks great. Then I preview it the way you’ll see it on the website and I notice all sorts of errors. Having an audiobook version was no different. Actually, I think it was worse.
I’d hear myself talking along and then I’d think, “I should’ve said this right there.” Five minutes later I’d think, “Why didn’t I mention that other thing.” A couple minutes later, I’d think of something funnier to say about something. This went on and on. Kinda like this blog post. LOL I dictated all these changes into my phone. And that meant another rewrite… which of course, lead to more home recording sessions and road editing.
Well, I’m going to cut this off here.
Suffice it to say that I went a few more rounds of making things better and going through the whole process again. I even made another complete pass at adding more humor. They say that a writer is their own worst critic and that at some point you just have to let it go and release it. Since I’m far too cheap to pay for an editor, that choice had to be mine.
So that’s where I am today. I’m sure if I listened to the book again, I’d find something else to make it better, so I’m simply not going to listen to it anymore. At this point, I’m kinda sick of my own voice anyway.
I’m also just as sure that I will eventually get feedback from readers/listeners about stuff that I’ve missed. If it’s another one of those forehead-smacking stupidity moments, I may make changes to it eventually, but for now it is what it is.
So basically, the book started out as a 120 page, 6 hour audiobook, and turned into a 208 page, 9.25 hour gab fest. How’s that for “flushing out” a book?
So Trucking Life has finally been released. And it only took 11 years!
Now I know there are a few of you crabby pants out there thinking, Oh great. Another guy trying to sell something online. Well here’s what I have to say to you. Deal with it.
I’ve written this blog since 2009 and I’ve been recording the Trucker Dump podcasts since 2012. In that whole time I haven’t had advertising on the webpage or the podcast. I’ve never asked you for money for myself either. I will inform you that I have been looking at some sponsorship opportunities lately, but I won’t do anything until I find a good fit.
So here’s the deal, if you don’t like the fact that I’m trying to earn a few extra bucks by helping potential truckers with their career decision, well, no one is forcing you to buy anything. And if my past podcast/blog promotion skills are any indication, I expect you’ll still be able to follow me on Twitter without being bombarded by promotions. You can expect some, but let’s just face the facts that I suck at self-promotion.
But for those of you who have enjoyed the content I’ve provided over the last several years, please consider ordering Trucking Life. If not, well, I’m okay with that too. I’ll continue to blog/podcast as much as I can manage until whatever time I lose interest in it or my life changes in a way that doesn’t make any sense for me to keep doing it. I doubt the money from this book will affect either of those things.
So you may be thinking, I’m already a truck driver. I don’t need your stupid book.
That’s probably true, but I still think you’d enjoy reading or listening to it. I mean, lots of current truckers are reading/listening to Trucker Dump and I’m not telling them anything they don’t already know, but they’re still here. By the way, I really appreciate that. But don’t take my word for it. Check out free samples of the audio and text.
If you order from Amazon or Apple, they both have easy ways to get the text version onto your devices and I’m pretty sure Barnes & Noble does too. Smashwords takes a smaller royalty, but you’ll also have to manually transfer the file to your mobile device if that’s how you’re going to read it. Smashwords does have all the text formats though, including MOBI for Kindle devices and apps, and EPUB that will work pretty much everywhere else.
But by all means, please order however it’s easiest for you. If you already have an Apple ID or an Amazon or Nook account, that is by far the easiest method. And perhaps most important of all, please, please, please leave a review if you decide to read or listen to it. Books live or die on reviews nowadays and as a new release I have exactly zero reviews right now.
One more thing. You’ll probably notice that the $8.99 I’m asking for Trucking Life is more expensive than other similar books on the market. If you want to know why, check out the Trucking Life sales page where I go into more detail about what you’re getting and why I feel it’s better than its competitors. If you don’t need convincing, you can order below.
Well, I hope you enjoy Trucking Life. I’ve put a heck of a lot of work into it and I hope you get something out of it. Whether you do or don’t, please let me know what you think about it by emailing me at AboutTruckDriving@gmail.com or TruckerDump@gmail.com. And don’t forget those ever-important reviews wherever you buy it. Thanks a bunch.
If you don’t see your favorite retailer above, simply to go their website and search for “Trucking Life” to see if it’s available.
Links mentioned in the podcast version:
I mention the latest articles I wrote for TruckerMagazine.com.
If you’re a trucker who’s also an Apple-junkie, you should definitely join the iTruckers Slack group by requesting an invite at iTruckers@iCloud.com.
Jeff Bayless from The Successful Trucker website asked me for some help, but since I couldn’t really help him with what he wanted, I guess he’ll have to settle for this lame plug.
Get sick a lot on the road? Maybe you should check out this 24/7/365 Telemedicine service that Sheldon from Concierge Benefit Services brought to our attention. Or you can call him at 813-643-3630.
What the heck is an ISBN?
Smashwords can help you publish your ebook.
I used a Mac app called Audiobook Builder to make my audiobook.
Buy the book from Amazon Kindle
Buy the book from Apple iBooks
Buy the book from Barnes & Noble
Buy the book from Smashwords
Be sure you READ THE WARNING about the size of the audiobook (in the book’s Appendix) before you try to download it on your phone.
In the feedback section:
Tommy writes in to thank me for the Trucker Dump podcast/blog, but it’s not for the reason you might be thinking…
Greg heard TD109: Coping With Rookie Truckers and sent an audio comment sharing one of his stories about dealing with a rookie driver.
Nath wrote in after reading TD33: Automatic Or Manual Truck Transmission and gives his opinion of automatic transmissions.
New listener George sent in an audio comment after hearing TD104: Complacency Strikes. He loves driving reefer and wants to know why I prefer dry vans. I give him the worst answer ever given to anyone.