• Chris OBrien

Long Overdue: How the idea evolved over time

I am a die-hard Kansas Jayhawks fan. My Dad went to school there. Same with my brother. Uncle Clark and Uncle John. Aunt Cindy. My dad's parents, Mombo and Poppo, met there. And Poppo's brother even played on the basketball team. I broke the trend, but made a peace offering years later with a Long Overdue book on KU basketball.

So I'm always looking for ways to tie-in a good Kansas reference/metaphor. And today, I've got one that's not too much of a stretch. I want to show how our first ideas--whether that's for a book or a business--don't have to be perfect and how this initial idea will ultimately evolve over time into something better. This article ends up being about Long Overdue's first year, but I hope it also provides inspiration for any of your own new projects in the works.

To show this idea progression, here's a look at how the Jayhawks logo evolved from the original one in 1912 to the one used today.

Each one got a little bit closer. And there are elements from every prior logo into the one we have today (even the creepy Edgar Allen Poe vibe from 1920).

I've seen the same thing happen with Long Overdue. A year ago, this passion project was a mess of three different ideas all trying to fit under the same umbrella. These were the three:

Fast Food Bookstore - A way for authors to publish books that were too long for a blog but too short for a book. Books would be 10, 20, 50 pages long and referred to as burgers, nuggets, fries.

Shirley Cooper - Named after my Grandma on my Mom's side, this would be a way for families to record stories then turn those into books; creating family libraries for future generations.

Retired Authors - An option for people who are now retired but have always kicked around the idea of writing a book.

So we tested things out. Started creating our rough draft.

Our first author, Jon Oldham, published his "Tackle the Library" series which are 50-page books on topics like Plato, The French Revolution, and Indian Independence. These were too long for a blog, but too short for a book. They fit the "Fast Food Bookstore" idea.

Our second author, Joy M. Lilley, is a retired nurse over in England (we're in Chicago). She used us to publish her fourth novel (Strawberry Moon). This fit right along with the idea of a person starting their writing career after retirement. The "Retired Author."

Our third author, David Warden, is not retired but his book, "Don't Be That Guy: Career Advice from 30 Years Down the Road" was a similar concept; a guy looking back toward the end of his career and sharing stories to help others along the way.

Then our co-founder, Omar, started working with a friend on her biography. Before this, my Dad wrote a short children's book about his first grandson. I even found a book of poems from Mombo's step-dad. Recording these types of stories, passing these along for future generations was right in line with that initial idea for "Shirley Cooper."

So then, now what?

It's funny, I think there are ultimately two kinds of writer's block. The traditional one is when you can't get started because you haven't had that one big idea. Or you're stuck in the middle of a project, not sure where to take your story next.

The less talked about version is when you have too many ideas firing at once. And, because you're running in all of these different directions, working on different things, you aren't able to gain momentum on any particular project.

But running the different tests, learning from our first authors, putting in all of the time and energy was the only way to figure out what Long Overdue's story would be. And while it was messy a year ago, it all led to a pretty clear vision heading into 2020. Three different ideas turned into one eight-word sentence:

Long Overdue empowers people to create meaningful stories.

So yes, the stories can be shorter than 100 pages. They can be a novel written by a retiree, published on Amazon. They can be ten copies of a biography or memoir only intended for friends and family. They can be from a high schooler writing about basketball or a college grad writing about Plato. We won't limit the genres or types of books. The common thread between all of our titles is that these are meaningful stories to the author. They contain memories, stories, ideas, philosophies, perspectives that the writer wants to share with friends and family, some of whom they may never actually meet.

So our three initial ideas in the rough draft stage turned into one big idea with two different finish lines. We have "Stories" which is for people who are writing/recording a book that is only for friends and family. And then we have "Long Overdue Books" for people who would like to publish their book to the public and are looking for help connecting with their first 10-100 fans.

As this picture became more clear of what Long Overdue would be about, it was time to update our logo. We went from the rough draft on a notepad to one designed by a professional artist.

And, just like the Kansas Jayhawks logo, ours will likely evolve over time.

But hey, I think it looks pretty good for now.

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