Odie Smith – Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s Employment Survival Guide

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

The book’s title is Mr. And Mrs. Smith’s Employment Survival Guide (Business Edition). The book provides my personal experiences on how to survive the unemployment difficulties after a job loss and suggestions on how to maintain a job once you have acquired the job. The book consists of 25 chapters with topics such as Tips for Surviving a Job Loss, Which Bills You Should Pay First, How to Save Money While Unemployed, Resume Writing Assistance, and Interviewing Etiquette Tips.

Tell us something about yourself.

I was born and raised in St. Louis, MO, and I have lived here all of my life. My wife (Daval) and I have been married for 23 years and we are raising our two children (Odie Jr.) and (Aubrey). Currently, we reside in Florissant, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. In April 2008, I decided to return to school to acquire a business degree, which was one of my long-term goals. After completing a couple of creative and business writing courses, I discovered a more developed sense of knowledge and educated writing insight and I decided to complete the book that I started more than 18 years prior. When I fulfilled my educational goal and graduated with an Arts in Business degree, I was able to concentrate on sharing my knowledge of employment survival to individuals across America.

What inspired you to write this book?

After my first layoff in 1992, I began writing a journal of my unemployment experiences, so that if I was ever laid off again, then I would know what to do and where to go, because I have written information to help direct me. After many of my coworkers and friends began to lose their jobs due to layoffs, I would share my information and experiences with them. I would also research information for each of them on unemployment benefits, credit counseling services, resume writing, and even the Department of Family Services (all before there was Google, Yahoo!, and the public internet). Each person had a different hardship situation and after accompanying so many friends and coworkers, I had a collection of helpful details to write booklets and brochures. Following many years of helping others, while at the same time accumulating unemployment facts, statistics, and information, I began to have a passion for writing the book.

How did you choose the title?

With the support and encouragement from my wife, I wanted to share my accomplishments with her by placing her name next to mine (Mr. and Mrs. Smith). During the writing process of the book, she assisted me by submitting several ideas, stories, and episodes of her employment survival experiences. Together, we have conducted job fairs, interviewing workshops, book fairs, and media interviews about the book. So really, the book is both of ours.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

Two years ago, I was a full-time husband, father, full-time student, working a full-time job, writing full-time, and juggling personal life, I knew that becoming a successful author would be most challenging, but I continued to pursue and complete my responsibilities and goals. I submitted over 100 query letters to publishers and agents about the book and each of them sent me a rejection letter (of which I still have many of those letters). I began to feel concerned and worried that all of my hard work would go unnoticed. In February 2009, I received a phone call from a publishing agent at AuthorHouse Publishing who stated that there is a market for my book and AuthorHouse could offer publishing assistance. I was more than excited, and I am glad that I did not give up on finding a publisher.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

While simultaneously performing the roles of Customer Service Manager and Regional IT Manager at an IT company in St. Louis, MO, I traveled to most major US cities conducting interviews for technical and non-technical positions. This included several hundred-job aptitude assessments with qualified applicants. During many of these interviews, I noticed scores of erroneous interviewing techniques by the applicants and the flawed methods of them sitting in a job interview. I wanted to inform many of them (during the actual interview) to, please stop chewing gum, please turn off your cell phone, or why were you late? After reviewing so many troubling interviews, I thought that maybe I could write a guide about interviewing etiquette skills and market it in a handbook. This truly pressed me to pursue writing the book.

Do you have any writing rituals?

My primary routine would be to take my laptop and visit the local public library. For some reason, the library was the only place where I could find creativity, and I had to sit in the same area (alone at a small table in the periodical section facing a certain window). Before I would type anything, I would pray and thank God for the wisdom to write a book on employment assistance and the courage to help those who are in need.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

I learned the incredible power of a press release. The media news distributors such as PR Newswire, PR NewsChannel and Business Wire are very valuable resources. Their purpose is to announce to editors, radio stations, magazines, television networks, and newspapers of a public or personal promotion.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would hire a local PR team to help me publicize, advertise, and campaign the book in my hometown, instead of primarily concentrating first on a national audience.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I enjoy the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (co-creators of the book series) are two of my favorite authors, motivational speakers, and inspirational communicators.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I will begin my follow up book sometime in 2010. The upcoming book will have a theme of 20 family oriented topics, such as Mr. Smith’s 50 ways of being romantic to your mate, Mrs. Smith’s 100 different ways to say I Love You, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s 50 ways to save money within the home.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Try not to think about the difficulties of “writers block”, but instead, visualize what your eventual audience will want to read. When I followed this formula, my words and ideas began to flow effortless.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?

The book is for the unemployed individual, because it is very instrumental with directing those who desire unemployment survival.

The book is also for the working individual, because it helps to lead them towards a more practical and successful manor while on the job.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

St. Louis Examiner