DAVID is misunderstood. By everyone, so it seems. The 27-year old business enthusiast has failed at almost every career he’s tried. Searching for his life’s meaning and enamoured by the startup culture in Silicon Valley, David jumps headlong into a job at a small, albeit growing, business.
He soon realizes, however, that while the company is considered a “startup,” it’s as unfulfilling as any corporate job he’s had, and he decides to pursue his own entrepreneurial venture with his engineering friend, CODY. David believes that if he can become a famous business owner, he’ll find happiness.
But not if his previous employer has anything to say about it. In true Silicon Valley fashion, David’s former boss and CEO, OMAR, finds out about their new company, and threatens legal action on the grounds that his two former employees stole proprietary technology to launch their business.
The allegations are false, but Omar feels wronged and wants retribution. It’s clear that he never intends to see a courtroom, but instead wants to halt the operations of David’s company and maliciously bleed him and his business partner dry financially.
David is stunned. Wrought with the type of existential angst that plagues most millennials, he feels directionless and depressed. He’s unable to understand why a human being would want to knowingly ruin someone else’s life. His negative emotions spill over into other areas of his life and his girlfriend, HALLIE, is fed up and leaves him.
In response to the threat of litigation, David, together with Cody, decides to dissolve the business. David, tail between his legs, with nothing to keep him in San Francisco, runs off to Los Angeles to live with AARON, an artistic friend.
It’s in L.A. that David again places his happiness and purpose on external factors. Still feeling distraught, he continues to search for his passion in life and is convinced by Aaron to pursue writing, an artistic endeavor that he’s always enjoyed. Unsure of where to start, David gets caught up by the glitz, glamour, and celebrity of Los Angeles, and tries writing a screenplay. He quickly realizes that he doesn’t enjoy this type of writing and that his interests lie in fiction novels and nonfiction self-help books. He begins experimenting with these forms.
It’s during this time that David meets SAM, an aspiring actress working as a barista in West Hollywood. She’s able to show him that it's not the external validation that leads to a satisfying life, but rather the internal joy of pursuing a passion and working everyday towards getting better that matters. David is enamored by her demeanor and her beauty and is inclined to believe her. He decides to give up trying to become successful and famous and instead focuses on what he loves: writing.
He starts posting short articles on a personal blog. Through trial, error, and a little luck, his articles are seen by the owner of an L.A.-based artist management company. The owner loves what he reads and asks David if he’d be interested in turning his short articles into a full-length nonfiction book. David is ecstatic and agrees.
For the first time in his life, David feels like things are going his way. He’s still couch surfing, but he is confident in his future book, and completely forgets about the negativity of his past, instead focusing on living a positive life.
Unknown to him, David’s former company again catches wind of his endeavors. Omar, still bitter, runs a forensic analysis on David’s work computer and finds the beginning of a manuscript that is thought to be the idea behind his upcoming book. On the grounds that David developed the idea on company time and on company property, Omar decides to file a new lawsuit, this time for the full rights to the book. David will have to defend himself in San Francisco.
David is crushed. Unlike the first threat, this lawsuit aims to take away what he loves most. Luckily, his journey teaches him the value internal self-love and the drawbacks of placing happiness on external factors, and he decides to face the lawsuit with open arms.
He moves back to San Francisco and sees Omar in court. A legal battle is waged, after which a jury of his peers finds David guilty and grants full rights of his book to his former employer.
David isn’t distraught over the ruling, which surprises even himself. He realizes that his long and arduous path from San Francisco, to Los Angeles, and back to San Francisco, gave him what he’d always been looking for: emotional self-reliance. He also identifies that his writing is much stronger now, and he’s excited to start another book, knowing that it will be better.
His journey also uncovers the very real need for a writing platform that can help amateur and aspiring authors amplify their voices. Now back in Silicon Valley, he forms a partnership with Cody and Aaron to build a business that fulfills this need, bringing his story full circle.
For the first time in his life, David is happy. All it took was a failed business, a lawsuit, a breakup, and the loss of his passion project. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
Millennials, male, tech savvy, early in career, entrepreneurial-minded, focused on self-improvement, outgoing, sociable, active, outdoorsy
To date, there are very few fiction novels that approach life and business in such a way that it provides real-world advice and value. The aim of Life and Death in Twenty Seventeen (“The Novel”) is to fill that void. That said...
Meet Jordan. He’s a 25-year-old male who graduated college three years ago with a degree in Business Administration. Jordan’s been in the workforce for the past two and a half years and is on his second job in his chosen career track. However, he’s beginning to have doubts as to whether or not the path he’s taking is the right one, and wonders if the 9-5 corporate lifestyle is one that he wants.
His new job is located in Silicon Valley and Jordan has been renting a room in a four bedroom apartment in San Francisco. He commutes every day on the tech buses to Mountain View from his home in the north end of The City. Jordan is outgoing and social, enjoys outdoor activities, and is reaching the age where his next relationship could end in marriage. He’s also beginning to understand the importance of personal development.
He has newfound interest in self-improvement and has started looking at the option of self-employment to improve his skills and increase his freedom through entrepreneurship. Jordan’s desire to improve himself and become his own boss increases his need to read positive content on the subject, both new and traditional.
Millennials like Jordan enjoy books like The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, The Firm by John Grisham, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Lloyd: What Happened by Stanley Bing, and The Dip by Seth Godin. Beyond books, millennials like Jordan also frequent publications like Entrepreneur Magazine and podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show by Tim Ferriss, Entrepreneur on Fire by John Lee Dumas, and The Tropical MBA Podcast by Dan and Ian.
Jordan is the niche target market for The Novel and is the entry point for the larger millennial population. By focusing on his consumer profile as The Book’s “ideal reader,” popularity of The Book will expand and influence the overall generation. The millennial cohort, as a whole, is huge:
Millennials make up one-fourth of the U.S. population (LeadsCon)
American Millennials combine to wield roughly $1.3 trillion in buying power (LeadsCon)
Further, millennials are quickly changing the business environment:
One-third of older millennials (aged 26 - 33) have a four-year college degree, making the overall cohort the best-educated group in United States history (LeadsCon)
90% of millennials report that entrepreneurship is a mindset rather than a position (oDesk)
Of all millennials, 54% report that they will either start a business or have already started one (Kauffman Foundation)
The average tenure for Millennials is two years (Pay Scale)
It’s reported that by 2020, there will be more people working for themselves than people working for others. The entire way we live our lives is in an incredible flux, and millennials are looking for content that will help them cope and thrive in this changing environment. This content can take many new forms, like blogs and podcasts, but millennials still actively read books, too:
Roughly 80% of millennials have read a print book in the past year (Pew Research Center)
A reported 72% of millennials have read an ebook in the past year (Statista)
This means that the character-driven plot that makes Life and Death in Twenty Seventeen an engaging read and provides real-world value is well positioned to take advantage of the current and future millennial trends. The millennial cohort consists of well educated, tech savvy people with entrepreneurial aspirations. They have increasing disposable income and are looking for content to help them in their life journey.
By marketing to “Jordan,” the niche millennial consumer, it will add real value to his life and start a chain of events that will increase the exposure and demand of the novel to the entire millennial generation.
Sideways - The Novel’s character-driven plot and dialogue is inspired by the novel Sideways, by Rex Pickett. I really enjoy the way in which the author’s dialogue translates so well to real life, and I want to model my character relationships so that they also translate well.
Given that Sideways is an accurate critique on human interaction, I feel that it is important to mimic this accuracy when providing commentary on what it means to be a millennial who’s trying to figure out life. When it comes to the characters in The Novel, I wanted to write the “Sideways for millennials.”
The Alchemist - The Novel’s story arc is modeled after the parable The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. In the novella, the protagonist travels far and wide in search of his passion and meaning in life, and finds that his purpose was inside him the whole time. However, it takes a worldwide journey to uncover his life’s meaning.
T.S. Elliot once said that “we shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” The story arc of The Novel embodies the spirit of this quote and the spirit of The Alchemist. The protagonist in The Novel needs to come full circle (both physically and emotionally) in order to find his true meaning in life.
The Dip - While The Novel is fiction, it has loud undertones of real-world advice and value. The goal of The Novel is to entertain readers while helping them pursue their passions and uncover their purposes. The Dip, by legendary Seth Godin, pioneers the idea that the path to mastery and success is a hard fought journey. Only the best of the best are able to make it through the “dip” and come out successful on the other side.
The Novel addresses this real-world dip through a fiction story that rings true for its readers. It shows people that it takes a lot of trial and error to find happiness in life, and when you truly believe in something, you shouldn’t give up.
The 4-Hour Workweek - The Novel is a fiction story that deals with the very real theme of The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss. In his book, Tim champions the idea that it’s possible to generate income while working minimal hours, due to advances in technology. He argues that the value of a job should be based on freedom and happiness as much as on monetary rewards.
This is the very essence of the protagonist’s struggle in The Novel. The pursuit of freedom through a 4-hour workweek is the overarching aim of the main character. This also means that the type of reader who resonates with The 4-Hour Workweek will also resonate with The Novel.
Author Bio & Platform
I, Evan Tarver, am a graduate of San Diego State University with a degree in business finance and minors in both economics and religious studies. I’ve always been a self-proclaimed “sci-fi nerd,” and my love of reading propelled me to voraciously consume content on business and self-improvement once I entered the workforce.
I started my career as a financial analyst for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Computing Science Division) and worked my way to become the Director of Finance for an eight million dollar funded startup. From there, I left to start my own business, of which I still run successfully. My desire to achieve both career success and true happiness encouraged me to catalogue my experiences online, with the aim of helping people who are, or will be, going through similar entrepreneurial ups and downs.
I’ve spent the last two years building a platform and personal brand. I currently post weekly articles on my blog Business and Self-Improvement, which can be found at http://www.evantarver.com. The articles are nonfiction pieces that discuss life, love, and the pursuit of happiness, seen through a business lense. The target demographic of the website is similar to The Novel’s demographic: Millennials who are tech savvy, early in their careers, and are entrepreneurial-minded, focused on self-improvement, outgoing, sociable, active, and outdoorsy.
My website currently garners between 50 - 100 unique visitors per day, many of whom come through organic searches or viral Facebook traffic. I’ve also started collecting emails, and have more than 200 to date, and counting. My platform continues to grow and I see it as a way to generate consistent articles that increases my brand equity and drives relevant consumers to my paid content. In addition to my online presence, I actively speak at college clubs and fraternities in California, which also raises awareness for my content.
Further, I am the owner of a small business that specializes in the management of digital marketing campaigns. I plan on using paid ads to increase the size and scope of my current platform while simultaneously building an integrated platform that supports The Novel. Specific strategies can be found in the following section.