I admit it. I am jealous.
Max Weiss is 8 years.
And Max has published a book- The Baseball King.
I was 39 when I first published. Ugh, Max is so far ahead of the curve.
Okay, jealousy aside.
Max does want to be a pro baseball player when he grows up. Good for him.
Max is an entrepreneur as well. He sold an early version of the book to his neighbors.
I learned about Max through is father, Martin Weiss (Wow, what a great name!)
Martin shared his story in a Facebook group Choose Yourself, so I HAD to learn more.
Max and Marty were nice enough to answer some questions for me.
(Seriously read this. There is a lot to learn and admire here.)
- Max, how long have you been playing baseball? As long as I can remember. It’s been something like 4 years since I’ve been playing. I started with t-ball. I hope to play for the Boston Red Sox when I grow up. I will play first base or shortstop. Right now I play all positions, but the ones I’m really good at are shortstop, first base and pitcher.
- Max, what prompted you to go out and sell one-page copies of the book to your neighbors? One day I was bored and I was thinking about baseball so I though how about I write a book. So I wrote a story and I sold some copies to the neighbors for one dollar. It was good so I thought I should charge money for it. My dad told me now to go back those neighbors and give them the new hard cover book for free.
- Is there another book on the way? Maybe there might be a lot of books that I might write soon. Who knows? If I did, I’d write about basketball. When I grow up I might write more books. But I might not be an author if I’m a baseball player. I’m thinking about starting a YouTube channel about different games before I write another book. My other idea is to start a charity for kids who want baseball equipment but don’t have enough money to get it.
- Marty, being a member of the Choose Yourself group on Facebook, how long have you been reading James Altucher’s work? I’ve been reading James Altucher’s work since about 2011. A friend of mine, Patrick, first introduced me to him. He had sent me an email saying that I had reminded him of Altucher (albeit he was sure to mention that I was a taller version). I first really became intrigued with Altucher related to his supposed interest in a particular stock at the time that I was following. I slowly became more and more interested in his writings. I do remember the one thing that seemed to really intrigue me about him was his honesty. I remember thinking about how he says things that others would be too afraid to write, yet they are things that perhaps many of us had actually pondered ourselves.
- Tell the story again of how you got the Carlton Fisk quote. As the book project continued, I kept coming up with many more ideas. One that I thought that would be really great was to get a current or former Major League Baseball player to write a blurb for the book. I originally asked Max to offer up some names of players. We initially sent out a couple letters to current players (and I believe perhaps even my child-hood, favorite Wade Boggs). Given that I knew sometimes it could take months to get a response from players, I thought it might be best we looked at retired players. It also dawned upon me too that a retired player is more likely to cross generations, which I thought would be great for the book. Max and I agreed upon Carlton Fisk. He certainly knew he was through a Red Sox event we attended locally (Winter Weekend at Foxwoods), and of course Fisk’s iconic World Series home run. I discovered Fisk is an honorary board member of the Cancer Support center. I had then simply sent the appropriate draft copies, along with our request, and a nominal check made out to the Cancer Support Center. Most importantly I was very clear and sincere in my personal note that I expected him to keep the charitable contribution regardless. I thought for example, that this wasn’t necessarily as simple as asking for an autograph and could understand a number of reasons as to why he might not agree to a blurb. Ultimately, Max and I were so ecstatic to receive our request back from Fisk upon which he had written a note on our sample cover print out, which read: “Go for it Max. Good luck,” which he had signed.
- With your son writing the book, you formatting and uploading the book, and your mother this seems to be a family affair. Are there other entrepreneurial projects involving the whole family? The key thing about this project was being able to show to Max the relationship between ideas and execution. I was proud even with his initial execution, and wanted to further demonstrate the tools and resources, which are so easily available today to make things happen. While it still requires hard work, many resources have been democratized, and so much is possible or at least a lot more accessible than a decade ago. Beyond the initial entrepreneurial spirit he demonstrated, it was certainly the thought of Max’s grandmother (my mom), having the skills to draw the illustrations, which led me to the conversation with Max around taking this book idea even further. I really liked the idea, that this was a family affair. While not given credit in the book, Max’s aunt (my sister) helped with the editing. She’s a wonderful teacher, and really enjoys what she does. Aside from the experience for Max, it’s been a lot of fun for me as well. Having an excuse for example for putting up a Web site (www.TheBaseballKing.com). And yes there are other entrepreneurial projects. Specifically we sell a few products on Amazon.com. This is a lot of fun as well. Particularly as my wife enjoys testing the products, and the boys help me out with things like packaging and sticking labels on products to be sent to Amazon for fulfillment. There of course have been those one off projects. One baseball season for example, I involved my kids in a video project in which we created fun to watch team videos, slightly customized for each child.
- What else should people know about the project? I think my mom is confused as to the “seriousness” of it. At first, I’m not sure she understood how far we planned on taking this. Yet at the same time, I believe she probably thinks today it’s a lot more serious that it actually is. I really didn’t want to stress her out in having to do so many illustrations; particularly knowing she doesn’t do this kind of art (oil paintings and realistic portraits is more her forte). My vision was simply some black and white drawings taking inspiration form Shel Silverstein’s books. I had told my mom, she could just draw stick figures. Given what we’ve done with the book today, my mom wishes for example she had used charcoal paper and not just plain typing paper to do the illustrations, and of course is critical of her own work and insists she would have done a better job. I love the illustrations, and also like the “rawness” of the illustrations in that they appear to be hand-drawn in the book. The other interesting aspect to the book was the editing process. It was important to keep Max’s original story intact as much as possible. Heck, I have several books myself published by major publishers, and the editing done on Max’s book is minuscule relative to what the editors had done to my books! For Max it was mostly punctuation, capitalization and spelling. There are aspects of the story we questioned internally, but never mentioned to Max. In fact, we even rationalized some of these things in our head as if the author had purpose. For example, when the boys are playing ball, we found it odd that Max chose the Yankees (He’s a HUGE Red Sox fan!). But interestingly the boy who chose the Red Sox is the one to go on and become the baseball king … and of course why would he have a Yankee become the hero? That raised another thought as well though. We found it interesting and perhaps selfless, that Max’s friend Ryan is that character, and not Max himself. Rather, he takes the backseat. In another example, we thought about having him add to the story of who won the game when he tells the score of the children. Again, we had to step back, and we thought, let it be. Perhaps the beauty here is as the two young boys playing together, it wasn’t really relevant who won. I am afraid that years later, Max will ding me for the one change I made, in which he may later express his mad reasoning … Max at the end of the story is the opposing team’s catcher. In his original story, he was the umpire. Aside from making some nuances with the illustrations come together, I felt there was a conflict of interest of having Max be the umpire for his friend, Ryan in the World Series.
There is so much to learn from this interview. So thank you guys for taking the time to answer my questions.
Oh and Max, yes, you can be a baseball player an author. Derek Jeter released his first book, the same week I released a baseball book. (Guess who did better in the rankings.)
So you can do both.
Oh, and you can help kids that don’t have enough money for baseball equipement.
Glad to know know kids like you exist Max.
So go ahead and check out the book’s website.
Also Martin Weiss is a pretty accomplished fellow as well. He write computer/IT books. Check out his Amazon page.
Here is info on Max and his grandmother.