In this episode, Tim and Brock speak with Keith Dow and Tyler Carroll.
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Despite being at different points in their career, Keith and Tyler became aware of each other during their time in the army. Their time together early on was extremely brief, but they stayed in contact which eventually led to the founding of Dead Reckoning Collective (DRC).
Keith and Tyler reminisce on the story of running an early blog featuring content written by folks in the military. They go on to share how running the blog showed them the unfilled need of military and veteran writers. After multiple small projects, DRC was formed and have since published 11 veteran works. DRC is a veteran exclusive publishing company, covering all writing styles.
We speak at length about the importance of the people you have around you, how fostering a creative community around you pushes you harder than doing it alone, and how DRC is helping veterans learn and publish their work.
Follow along with Keith, Tyler, and DRC at:
Whether you’re in the service for four years or twenty, you have learned skills, led teams, and learned what it takes to execute under pressure. While those past successes are valuable, they don’t always translate to a life or career when you get your DD214.
Join Tim and Brock as they break down the skills and strategies current and former military members are using to build a successful careers on the outside the service.
Follow along with us.
• Tim: @Mccaurthor, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbJ5Ly07sxv2lrofAiN16aw
• Brock: @BrockHBriggs
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Brock Briggs 0:17
Hello and welcome to the Scuttlebutt podcast. Our guest today is Keith Dow and Tyler Carroll of the Dead Reckoning Collective. Dead Reckoning Collective is a veteran's publishing company that exclusively publishes veteran works. Welcome to the show today, guys!
Keith Dow and Tyler Carroll 0:32
Thanks for having us!
Brock Briggs 0:33
I'm looking forward to our conversation. We've been on like this writing kick, recently getting several weeks in a row here of like, different veteran writers. So it'll be good to get to the source and talk to you guys. Do you want to give us a couple minutes spiel of your backstory? And what led you here?
Keith Dow 0:53
Yeah, for sure. So I'm Keith Dow, co-founder of Dead Reckoning Collective. I did five years active duty in the army. And that was when Tyler and I met, get into that a little bit later, but did five years as an MP, hated the majority of that job. But you know, thankful for it, because it showed me a lot of like, what I did not want to do for the rest of my life.
Got out in 2013 and jumped right into school pretty much, worked some odd jobs, construction stuff, and landscaping and stuff like that, and then jumped right into school with the GI Bill to the Bachelor in Human Services. And then from there, wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do, started working at a hospital and kind of got exposed to the clinical environment. While I was working security there, because we worked a lot like on the mental health floor and stuff.
And so from there, I ended up also using VA benefits to do a Master's in Social Work, which is what I'm doing now. So also, when I’m not doing Dead Reckoning, I also work with HunterSeven Foundation, working with veterans suffering from toxic exposure related illnesses and stuff like that. So we stay real busy. Tyler also wears like seven different hats. And but Dead Reckoning is for sure the passion project. Then I'll let him talk a little bit about himself. But yeah, I mean, directly takes up a lot of our time. And a lot of our like, our passion goes into it. Because Tyler and I, when we first met, didn't even actually realize what we had in common, or how much we had in common. So..
Brock Briggs 2:47
Yeah, it's got a weird way of sneaking up on you and you like the more time you spend with each other, you're just like, “Oh, you also think that way,” or like it kind of builds over time.
Tim McCarthy 2:59
One thing I'm realizing is I think we might be talking to the army version of us, Brock. Like Keith has a beard. Tyler has a mustache. You have a beard. I have a mustache, like this is the army version.
Brock Briggs 3:14
Literally is saying like..
Keith Dow 3:15
It's amazing. One of our newest authors posted this picture the other day. I don't know if anybody saw it, but it was, I can't remember what it was. It was these two like redneck guys because of the facial hair and like, you know, composite like body composition. He posted it and said like, “This looks like the wish app version of Tyler and Keith.”
Tyler Carroll 3:39
Yeah, it's a guy that you betcha guy who always does these like little skits on Facebook or whatever.
Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Brock Briggs 3:50
The wish app version, that's like a common joke now. And that's like, it's such a harsh dig.
Keith Dow 3:56
Tyler Carroll 4:00
Yeah. We get a lot of clever ones aimed at us now, giving us a hard time, but it's all good. I’m alright, will keep you my partner.
Keith Dow 4:08
So fight. Still fight everybody. Yeah.
Tyler Carroll 4:12
Yeah. Oh, I guess I'll talk a little bit about myself. And then I guess it is what started Dead Reckoning, and Keith and I's relationship. Kind of going back just a little bit. Like even though we're a publishing company that exclusively publishes veterans and stuff. I think our whole idea and what spawn Dead Reckoning was, we wanted to kind of reach across the table, kind of bridges the gap to the civilian side of things.
Most of our friends are veterans and stuff. But with Keith working in the hospital, once he got out, I had an easy transition going into the fire service with over 100 something employees only, like five of us are veterans. And that's where you would think that like a concentration of veterans would be. And it's a little different with first responders that there's similarities and everything. Going into that, I thought it'd be almost like exactly the same and it wasn't. And so we're like, “Alright, well, how do you link people together?” And it's always through stories. And that's where you kind of find a common ground.
And so I saw it pretty early on. Within, like I said, an area that you would think would be heavily veteran dominated in a seamless transition. Am I okay? Well, if I'm seeing this, that means everybody else has probably seen it more likely than amplified way. And so when Keith put out the post to like start, what Dead Reckoning was, it was just initially a blog site to kind of highlight veteran transition stories, kind of what you guys are doing in a way.
And so well, what does that mean to transition? And we're like, being a good father and a good husband. Just giving it your all, whatever aspect that you're doing it, whether it's going back to school, whether that's starting a business. Do you need to go into that athletic sector, or first responder sector? Or most people seem to just naturally gravitate towards, or is anything and everything. And so we were trying to show this diversity, because that's what the military offers, you know.
And I think Keith and I both always look at our own lives and what brought us to the military. And like, I grew up in a military family, hating the military yet still was destined to join the military. Or Keith was like, if I may be speaking for him, but like, it wasn't even an idea until like, months before doing it in a way. And it's because he saw other people doing what he thought he shouldn't be doing kind of thing. And so whatever reasons you join, they're your reasons. And somebody is gonna be able to relate to that, whether they're a veteran or not. Because you feel drawn towards a calling, whether that's actual service, or whatever career you end up getting into.
And so when Keith and I met in Italy, we just were friends, that was all it was. He was an MP. I had a buddy that was a medic that had a wife that was an MP. And we just happened to like, meet and didn't like immediately click it off. But we liked each other. Everybody likes Keith and I liked him. But that was like kind of all it was. And then he left soon after we met. And then like I said, it was through social media that kind of brought us back together. And..
Keith Dow 7:11
We met, I think right before you guys deployed,
And then when you got hurt and came back early, we linked up that, like literally one night. I don't think we hung out after that.
Tyler Carroll 7:25
No, not just us, too. It was like in group settings, like only a couple times. When I came back, all my friends were still deployed. And so I didn't have that many other people to kind of rely on. But since I met Keith, and he was still there as the MP. That's what kind of got us back together.
And then after I got out, I was dealing with why, how I got hurt in my time in Afghanistan and all that. And I wasn't writing a whole bunch, but I would write occasionally. And then, while I was hurt, I was reading a ton. And I was working out a ton. And like, what better way to get you mentally and physically, like healed is read, write and mentally, and then work out physically. And so I was like all in the self improvement mindset and really processing things. But I felt like I was doing it all alone. And keep kind of maybe like a little probe out there like, “Hey, there's anybody want to start up a blog.” I was like, “Well, hey, I've written this. Would you be interested in this being on that blog?” And he's like, “Absolutely, let's start there.”
And they kind of went a little mini viral, who was about coming back from the battlefield before you felt like you were ready, whether that was being hurt, or you spent your whole time there. And still, you came back before the war had ended. And the mission was accomplished, essentially. And so and how friends kind of make inside jokes that you're no longer a part of. So you kind of feel an outsider within being part of the community that you thought you were in. And there's a lot of stuff you know. And so it hit really, really well.
And then it kind of just kept forming where we were just talking to people like you guys. And we realized that writing and reading is like this, like underground, like punk movement. And essentially like, it's not cool to do that. But it is, actually. And a lot of people are doing it but kind of in secrecy. And so really well it's kind of like give this more of a voiceless, give this more of a platform. And so we found out that people were writing poetry. And I've written poetry since before I joined the military. And Keith had been writing since he was like a kid. And I was like, “Well, let's just put this together and this be our first publication.”
And again, that hits somehow and it just, we had a kind of a feel of the pulse of the community without really realizing it, in the demand of reading and writing and kind of self exploration. And what better way than understand your own story, and that's one of the big things that Keith always talks about is like, “Are you just like living your life, essentially? Are you writing your life? Or are you actually like the author? Are you taking control?”
And when you become an author, when you become a writer, you have to analyze everything and get the best understanding you can as objectively as possible. And that's stepping outside of yourself and your experience and making assessments of why you are where you are. What did you contribute to that? Who in your life is kind of informed those decisions or influenced and all that stuff? And so there's just so much that goes into reading and writing and understanding through other people's experiences, and then getting a fully articulated version of your own experience.
And so that was like, influencing, like, that's all just now coming to the realization after we've been doing this for years and years. Because I think we were just kind of reactive essentially, like, “Hey, let's do this. Hey, let's just do this.” And like, looking back, we're always like, “Man, like, it's just crazy how everything has just kind of continued to align.” But yeah, when once I got out, I joined the fire service and wanted to share those stories. I want to share military stories. And I wanted to talk about being a father and a husband. Because I think most men can relate to that as well. And so that's kind of where I'm at right now. I'm a father. I'm a husband. I'm a business owner of firefighter paramedic, like it all encapsulates. And I'm able to kind of share all of that. And at the same time, I'm pursuing my MFA. And I just started my final semester, and MFA is in writing. So let's see how it goes.
Brock Briggs 11:32
That's really cool to hear kind of how that this whole thing came to fruition. And it's interesting, looking back in hindsight how it just seems kind of random as you're putting things together. But then when you look back, or like, at the time, it feels like that, but when you look back, you're like, “Oh, like that was, that was the next step. And it all just kind of seems like it falls into place, and kind of naturally comes together to like, the next thing couldn't have happened without the thing prior and whatnot.” When you guys..
Keith Dow 12:04
We always talk about, like, you know, one of the things, there's a couple of things that we were really passionate about, and like really into, you know, pushing on everybody else, and like in urging other people to explore themselves. But one of those things is for sure, like finding creative people, and like, surrounding yourself with creative people regularly.
And that's one of the things that Tyler and I have going on is that we have a really great creative relationship. And we were, we're not so naive. That like we don't realize that. Like, that is for sure, like what keeps driving all these projects and stuff. We have too many ideas, like without enough time to complete all of them. Like, we'll never run out, like I don't know. I've been saying this the last like week, in a couple conversations.
But like, I don't understand, like, when people get bored. I don't have time to get bored. And I don't want it, like I don't. I have this never ending list of ideas and projects that like Tyler and I constantly wanna do. We have projects that we want to do on our own. But like, even the projects that we have, you know, on our to-do list, that we want to do solo, you know, or that we want to be our own project. We constantly like tap each other for input and advice and critique and stuff like that. So that whole, like, you know, surrounding yourself or finding like a guild type like, it's crucial in creativity. And that's one of the things, you know, we'll talk a little bit about, like the development and education stuff that we're doing as well. But that's one of the things that we're pretty passionate about as a company is finding some peers, or even people who aren't like you.
Tyler Carroll 13:51
Yeah, that what has made them attractive to others is the collective mindset, that community. And when you are creative or artistic in any way, like all you want is a sense of some type of validation for your work and your projects and your ideas and everything. But you also need the inspiration to finish them because they're not anything until they're done. And the only people that really can understand the necessity for encouragement are other people who are in that space. And so, like what do you do when you want to surround yourself with like minded people that want to go defend our country? Will you join the military? Who do you surround yourself with when you want to create insane ideas, creative people, you know?
And so we just were able to kind of combine those ideas and fortunately, help create and be a part of this community that has been just evolving nonstop. And it's incredible to know that like, we are part of it, but also help influence. It's something we're very, very aware of. And also we both like he kind of said, you're not naive to know that like we're extremely lucky to have each other because most people are doing this all on their own. There would be no Dead Reckoning, if it was just Keith. And there'd be no Dead Reckoning, if it was just me.
Like, when I'm slacking, he picks it up. When he's slacking, I pick it up. And then at the same time, we're able to encourage each other to kind of just keep going, and all that. And so it's incredibly hard to find people just like YouTube or friends to kind of like latch on to and leech off of at times too. It's like, when he's crushing it, I'm like, “Okay, now it's my turn, you know.” It's like that competitiveness to not like to see him fail or do better than him. But I know, I can do that, too.
Keith Dow 15:36
Yeah. I think just an overwhelming desire to not be the weak link. And we for sure, like fight like fucking siblings, too. But like, but it's always constructive. Like, thank God, we don't live next door to each other because the picket fence separating the yards would probably be broken 100 times over, like stepbrother style, like fighting and getting hosed down by our wives. But like we have a really, you know, part of the great thing about our creative relationship is that we're not afraid to tell each other when. And like an idea does not speak to us, you know, that the other has. And we're also not afraid to like, if the other is, you know, passionate enough like to let them like run with it and allow them to fall on their face or whatever, you know. But like, and sometimes it smashes but either way, like we have a really deep respect for each other in our tastes and our you know, our creative differences and stuff as well as the similarities.
Tim McCarthy 16:41
I couldn't agree more with everything that you're saying. I think going back to like finding your people. I've said it for years and years now. The people that you choose to have around you says more about you than anything else. As a person, it really does. And there's a lot of similarities there between you guys, and Brock and I. Just a couple episodes where I was like, “Dude, I'm sorry, like, I dropped the ball. Thank you. You are crushing it, like you picked up the slack.” You know, and so it's really, really nice to have that friend. And I think that it’s super important for doing what it is that you're trying to accomplish in the creative space.
Brock Briggs 17:26
Well on it, like it keeps you accountable to, I think is the big thing is it's not even just like, “Hey, I want to continue to be good for my friend or like whoever you're working with. You want to take the next step and bring them with you. And then you can kind of like alternate around. And it's really, really hard to do that on your own.
Especially when you don't have, like you said, maybe you don't have your network or you don't have that close friend that like things like you do. Man, it's really fucking hard to do that.
Tyler Carroll 18:00
Yeah, I always, the analogies, I immediately usually go to or like the gym, or fitness or something like that. I was a medic. I did personal training briefly. I worked out at the station as much as I can. And like yesterday with my crew, we did a partner workout. We're all motivated after the holidays, of course. And we're like we need to get everything back together and all that
Brock Briggs 18:22
Feeling thick after the holiday cake?
Tyler Carroll 18:25
Yeah, exactly. You know, I'm rolling on by myself there like a circuit. I'm gonna keep like a two minute or 220 pace because I'm gonna slow it down. And just chill and not work too hard or anything like that. And yesterday, during our five rounds, each one of us we're like, rolling that like, minute 40 pace. I just burned through a minute 30 pace. And there's no way I would do that by myself. I was like, I'm not gonna push myself too hard. But when I know, like, they're waiting on me or they're relying on me, you're always going to do better. And so, like, I come from sports growing up, like I played a lot. And so like, I thrive in those team environments, you know. It's like, Keith is my partner, my teammate, you know. I can't let him down just like this, you know. So, yeah.
Tim McCarthy 19:06
Yeah, there have been definitely some late nights for me where I'm like, when I produce, like my YouTube videos or whatever, I'm like, “I'm tired. I want to play video games or like, whatever. I'll do it on my day off.” But there's been several nights where I'm like, “Man, I'm really tired. But Brock is really relying on me to get these couple of videos done. Like I need to get these done for him so that he can put them out. I need to do this.”
So having that like extra push of somebody just like you're saying Tyler, somebody relying on you is that's big. Like that's a big big motivator because sometimes it's hard to like motivate yourself for your own personal stuff. And I'm sure it's the same thing with writing or whatever other project you're working on at the time. Or if it's just for you, you like, “Wait, I'm tired. I want to watch Netflix.” But when somebody's like, relying on you, like, “I gotta log in. Like, I gotta get this done good, because he did his part. And I need to do my part now.” So, yeah, it's a big motivation for sure.
Keith Dow 20:13
Yeah, I think the communication is key too. Because Tyler and I for sure, like with everything else that we have going on, we get like that. And so we're just brutally honest with each other, like, “Hey, like, I'm not doing it.” Or, “Hey, I'm gonna do this and like, you have, you know, X amount of days to do your end or whatever.” But the communication is key.
Brock Briggs 20:39
You guys have, I'm curious. Like, I know, my relationships and the people that I have that like, kind of close bond with or whatever, like Tim and a few other friends. Did you guys know, like, almost immediately when you met each other? You said you just hung out that one night?
Keith Dow 21:00
I was like a buck 50 soaking wet. He did not strike me as a person. He like, he was very fresh in his career, too. I was like, at the end of mine. And he was at the beginning. So he like and I was just like, I'm like, “Oh man, he's a nice kid.” But like, I just did not know what we could have had in common, you know? Like, he still had like a super boot haircut. Like he was like, he’s super drunk the first night I met him
Trying to get me to tell him the Master Mason’s password.
Yeah, yeah. I was.
Like, just like he and I was just like, I didn't, but we didn't talk enough. Like, you know, you can for sure like, enjoy someone and like, have no inclination to like, continue to get to know them. I just knew that, like he seemed to be a genuine person. And I liked him. But, you know, knowing what we know now, like we had, we've always had more in common than we realized. And we continue to find things out about each other that like that, you know, reveal even more of that. We're like, we have a ridiculous amount of common. We just didn't, it was too much to unearth at that time. So..
Tyler Carroll 22:21
Yeah, a lot of people like they see me and Keith and they're like, “Oh, you guys like contrast each other well, because they see me as this firefighter, dude. Like “all American boy”, I get it all the time. And Keith’s in the punk rock scene. You know, it's like, neither one of us I don't think judge each other for that by any means. Because he had like the hand tattoos and like I said, in the punk rock scene growing up. I didn't think anything of it, because I just don't give a shit about that.
Keith Dow 22:47
But I like to joke with Tyler's wife about how perfect he is too.
All American boy.
Tyler Carroll 22:55
Yeah, it's really fun. I'm very, very aware of perception I give off. Yet, that's just all it is, it’s a perception. I've done a lot of stuff in my life that a lot of people don't know. I guess I'm just good at hiding it. I don't know. But I come from a childhood that I had to grow up very quick and deal with a lot of people just don't know. And not that like I keep it to myself by any means. But it's not just information I just put out there with anyone.
But yeah, we didn't necessarily just like immediately click but we got along really well. And I don't know, like if I immediately clicked with, like, that many people to begin with. So I'm friendly with most people. And I can develop a risk, I think pretty much anyone, but something like this. I think it's just something that just matured over time.
Keith Dow 23:48
Yeah, we, I also I think it comes down to, like if you know, we're pretty good gauge of character. And I think we both pick up on different things. But like, I'm very much of the mindset, like when I meet someone that like I can get a pretty good read on them usually. And if I can't, it bothers the shit out of me.
But like, I can usually get a pretty good read up on somebody. And like, you know, the read that I got to Tyler was that he's a good person. So usually I'll make you know, I'll be dismissive of someone that I like, immediately, like, will witness something or like will pick up on something that I'm like, “Nah, that's not for me, you know,” which, in the military like was very difficult to maintain relationships. Because like, in terms of like value based lifestyles, like I did not mesh with a lot of people given like the culture and stuff. But you know, the way that you treat your friends and family and stuff is a pretty good indicator of how you're going to treat the person that you're meeting. So..
Tyler Carroll 24:55
I'm kind of more on the other end, right? Almost clicking anyone and trust and probably more than I should.
I want people to, like, I just put my faith in people. I haven't necessarily ever been burned by it, per se. But like, I just want to believe in the best of them. And I feel like if you are already kind of pitting them against themselves in your mind, like they're going to fail. And so I try to give some grace and probably too forgiving at times. And so I got to, that's where our balance is that is over here, the middle is where we meet on most things.
Brock Briggs 25:36
Nothing to balance, I think there's merit to both sides of that. And I think that I don't know which side I fall on. But yeah, I think that..
Tim McCarthy 25:49
I can tell you. I can tell you, yeah, yeah.
Hey, your best friend here, I can tell you because I was actually just talking to Jessica about this, my wife, a couple of weeks ago. I think ever since I've known Brock in a social setting, I think I'm quicker at making friends. Brock is much better at keeping friends. So Brock is just like me, like he's very, very likable. And we make the joke that everybody likes Brock, that's his fiancee makes that joke. I make that like everybody loves Brock.
Yeah, I appreciate that, awkward now. Yeah, weird! But like, at a party or whatever, especially like a couple years ago, like, I'm good at like socializing and making friends. But like, it'd be six months later and Brock's like, “Oh, I'm gonna have, like, have lunch with so and so.” And I'm like, “The one dude from the party. Like, how are you still talking?” And he's like, “Oh, yeah, like we text all the time.” So like, Brock is like really good at like, keeping friends for a long time. And it's like, it's the coolest thing to see. Because it's like, friend group just like, gets bigger and bigger. And I'm like, “Yeah, we're like, we had fun that one night. Like, I remember meeting you six months ago.” And Brock's like, “I like talk to him all the time.” I'm like, “What?
Why the fuck would you exactly do that?
Brock Briggs 27:14
Gotten me in trouble so many times, though, because I will just like coming into living with my fiancee. And she'll, I'll just say, like, “Oh, like, I'm talking to this person.” They're like, “Oh, who is that?”
“Oh, well, my friend from whatever.” And I always use that friend term, like super loosely. So she says friend, and she like immediately assumes that we're like, we talk every day. And then she's like, “Who are they?” And I'm like, “Oh, well, you know, the last time I saw him was like four years ago, like, they're just my friend.” And yeah, it's gotten me into trouble more times than it. But I think that there's value in and why I've really like leeched onto this podcasting is I feel really empowered by the more people that I know.
And I'm like, I don't know if you guys have read that. There's a Malcolm Gladwell book, I think it's Outliers or The Tipping Point. But he talks about like, the connector people, like that's who I am. And like, I feel empowered by like, “Oh, hey, you should talk to this person. Because they can like, offer you something and like, having those connections.” And just you guys are probably our eighth or ninth interview maybe. And just getting to meet such cool people is such a fun thing for me. So that's like something that's naturally apt.
Tyler Carroll 28:36
Yeah, that's honestly what really got me into war, like wanting to keep go directly. Because I was talking to awesome people and getting to hang out with Keith all the time. He’s one of my best friends, you know, and so why not keep doing that?
Keith Dow 28:50
Alright, so realize, a long time ago, just a side note that like, you don't have to be like best friends with everyone. And you don't have to, like stay in touch with everyone all the time. Like sometimes I feel guilty. And I have to remind myself that like, sometimes a relationship is literally one interaction, you know. Sometimes that's like what you get out of it. And it doesn't always have to be this ongoing thing. Just like, you know, you don't have to be like heartbroken every time like when you're like young and stuff.
I think that was kind of when I started learning it but like, you don't have to, like be heartbroken every time a fucking girl breaks up with you or vice versa. Like that can just be like the experience that it was and then you go on. And the friendships are really no different. Like you know, you get what you came for out of the relationship. It doesn't, you don't have to continue to try to squeeze shit out of something that literally only has that little bit.
Brock Briggs 29:48
Yeah, well and there's so many when you think about what it takes to be friends with somebody. There are so many things that have to line up at the same time. You know, you have to be kind of in a similar phase in your life like in terms of age, like, you know. Like if one person is having kids and the other person is in their drinking and partying stage like that, it's not a deal breaker.
But it's not going to immediately connect. You're not going to connect over talking about staying up all night with your kids. And then you need to kind of have similar interests. And then you need to be in the same place, in the same time and also have like, time to foster that relationship. And there's a lot the stars really have to align to, like be consistent long term friends with somebody and then to actually have that endure. When people are moving at different paces it's incredibly difficult.
Keith Dow 30:39
That like that, like over commitment side of social anxiety is fucking crippling. And like, it's one like, it's one thing that like, I'm not shy about at all anymore. Like, “Hey, no, like, can't commit to that.” Why? “Cuz I don't want to.
Yeah. Oh, yeah.
I'm not fucking interested.” Oh, no, “I'm not gonna come out,” like, “Oh, like you have something going on?” “Nope.” Like, I just don't want to, like, it's not like, you know. You don't have to do things that you don't wanna do. I'm at a point in my life where like, that is for sure the mantra like, “I'm not doing shit that I don't care about, that I don't wanna do”. And the sooner you can kind of wrap your head around, like how empowering that is. To have the time that you want, because you make the time that you want is pretty pretty game changing.
Tim McCarthy 31:31
For sure. And I think people respect that too. Like, when you're just brutally honest with somebody, they're like, “Okay, no, like makes sense.” My wife and I work together. We're both in sales. And there's been like, so many times somebody that we work with would be like, “Hey, we're like going downtown.” Or “we're going to do this. Do you guys wanna go?” And my wife's like, “Oh, maybe?” And I'm like, “No.” And they're like, “Oh, like, why?” And I'm like, I don't want to go.”
Keith Dow 31:58
It confuses a lot of people like that.
Because you know, the guy that punched the kangaroo in the face like, the look on the kangaroo's face. Like, I think it's like that. I think a lot of people like don't know how to react to that. They're like, “Oh.”
Especially when you don't lie about it. Like, yeah, well, this is fucking weird now. Like, no, it's not like..
Tyler Carroll 32:23
Something what I've had to learn over time, especially with like, the Dead Reckoning thing. And like, just to say no to things. It’s a skill that you have to develop, especially when you're wanting to, like grow something to industries that goes into that. Because you think every opportunity is going to be the opportunity to take it to the next level, or whatever the case may be. And so you talk yourself into things that probably aren't gonna give you the payback worth your time, you know, so you do have to actually filter through a couple decision. Like, “Okay, that's just not worth my time.”
Tim McCarthy 32:57
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I would assume to like with, with the Dead Reckoning Collective, it probably hit a certain point where you guys, I would assume had a lot of people like reaching out to you. And they wanted to do certain things, or have you guys on certain things, or whatever the case may be. How was that to kind of like, adjust and start telling people “no,” more often than you're probably used to.
Tyler Carroll 33:23
And I know for me, personally, What's hard is, this is a business. And initially, it started off very personal because I started with one of my friends. And we were just excited to give back to the community. And then it grew into being a business. And I've changed my thinking of, “Oh, I'm a business owner now. I can be people's friends, essentially.” But at the same time, like, my time is extremely valuable now, because I also have a family of four kids. And they're my priority more than anything.
And if everything's always pulling me away from them, plus my other job plus my own schooling and my own passions, like, whatever I'm approached with, like, it has to add value. And it takes a lot of confidence to be able to tell people that like, “sorry.” And so you definitely have to understand who you are now. Because we grew up a group relatively quickly, not that I didn't necessarily feel like I was a nobody, but I thought I was just somebody who just was contributing to the community. And now in a sense, like, we're shaping it. Like, that's the relationship we have with it. So yeah, it was something that evolved for me.
Keith Dow 34:37
It's also you know, we have to continually check ourselves and remind ourselves that we are because we're veteran publishing company, you know, that we're veterans ourselves. And we are exclusively publishing the written work of veterans. That means that like nine times out of 10, we may be getting somebody who this is their first crack at it. They haven't submitted anything anywhere else for publication. And like, industrially, you know, culturally, like rejection is a huge part of being a writer, and being able to take that. It’s not just and it's not anywhere near the same as being cut from a team.
It's not anywhere near as the same as like, you know, trying out for something and getting told no. Because a lot of times, that rejection will be just like feedback. Sometimes, I mean, if you're doing your job right, you'll get feedback also as you know, as a publisher, as an editor, as whatever. But it's a really important part. The problem with, you know, nine times out of 10, the submission being from a veteran who hasn't submitted anything anywhere else ever, and this is the first thing they've ever written is that it's crushing to them. They don't understand that, you know, seasoned writers.
My girlfriend has been writing for a long time. She's got her MFA. She teaches creative writing. She has a whole shit ton of things out for submission right now. And she's like, you know, almost daily, she'll get like, a rejection letter from something. She's got, like, she'll submit the same piece to like, 10 different publications, simultaneously, and so she'll get those. And it's just part of the game, you know.
And so, the process of the problem, I think, is that, like we are a publishing company, you know, trying to appeal to writers. And so we have to, like I said, regularly check ourselves. And remind ourselves that that's who we have chosen for our demographic for clients. And that sometimes we have to explain a little bit more to it. Like, it doesn't mean that we hated it. Or sometimes it does mean that we hated it. Sometimes it means that like you should do something else. Sometimes it means that you should develop yourself more as a writer. Sometimes it means that, you know, and so we try to give people some more in depth.
I also like, don't respond well to like the strong arm shit. So if you expect things immediately, just because you send something, you know, you can send this to any number of publishing companies, have you sent it to us. I kind of, I assume that like, it's because you have researched our company enough that like you, this is where you want it, not just because you're a veteran.
And just because you're a veteran doesn't mean that you're gonna be, you know, that we are gonna publish your work. Would you have specific expectations, you know. And so we try to maintain a level of accountability. And we try to, you know, try to provide good feedback. We try to do a lot of things.
And you know, that's like I said, with the, like development and education and stuff, that's kind of why we started doing that too, because we saw a need for it. We don't want to just set people up to fall on their face. Like, if we're telling other people who may not want to go do a four year degree or, you know, a Master's program or whatever. But they want to learn a little bit better about how to be, you know, a better writer, how to present something, how to submit something. Then will, you know, will offer different opportunities to learn how to do those things better.
Tyler Carroll 38:28
This is a world that Keith and I are still like, continually learning about and in broadening our understanding of it. And like, why I went and pursued a business degree, so I can understand business that much more. Because again, that's what we've developed into, I needed to understand writing that much more. So I pursued an MFA. What does that mean? Like, not only am I learning and becoming more of a subject matter expert, it also shows that you're becoming disciplined in the craft. And that's what this is.
And we're just because you write something, doesn't mean it deserves publication. Just because you have a cool story doesn't mean you know how to write well. And so that's what a lot of the educational side of things is. Like, this is a world of its own, that has its rules, that you have to kind of play by a little bit. And like when you guys reached out for the podcast, it was extremely professional. And so you understood the value of our time, and the value of you and who you are, and like your confidence within what you guys are offering us to be able to come onto your podcasts, you know. Like, that's a relationship like it's a business loan, one at first. And then it could develop into more of a personal one.
And again, that's what, it's a weird dynamic because we started kind of grassroots and like, I feel like that's where we will always kind of be. And I liked the idea that we're approachable. But they also have to understand what we've created and value our time. And it's a hard balance because people want the feedback. People want some direction, especially because this is so new for them. And that's what we wanted to create is like, “Hey, this is an important aspect of your life. You probably aren't doing, just like against the working out thing, like. Hey, you'll get the reps. And that's what writing is to get the reps.”
Just because you wrote one thing, doesn't mean you can go run a marathon, now you can go get a publish, like a publishing deal. It says, like, keep working at it. That's what we're doing constantly, it becomes work. And we posted something not too long ago about being a writer. It's like, what makes you a writer is you putting in the work. So The Art of War, sensitive, whatever The War of Art by Pressfield, he talks a lot about that is. It doesn't take that creative of an idea or that interesting of a story, to write a book. Like that is a huge contributing factor, you know, trades a book, the work you put into it, like work is the one requirement to finish a project. Everything else is supplemental. And so it becomes work.
And that's what's hard between like Keith and I's relationship, even at times is we have a work relationship, or a very personal relationship. It is hard to separate. And that is a struggle, and something that we have are constantly, again, checking ourselves. And at the same time, again, we started grassroots. And so we understand the appeal that we have. And we understand the demographic that we're appealing to. And so, like, just because I go get an MFA doesn't mean, I need to look down from our IV tap tower, because that's what we hated about academia, you know. But it also knows, should show that, like, I have an understanding now, whether it's better or not, who knows, but at least a more informed one.
Keith Dow 41:37
We're finding a very healthy balance regularly of being gatekeepers, as well as like, breaking shit down that we don't like, you know. So, it's, I mean, we're constantly finding things we're like, why is that a thing like, and then so we just don't do that. Like, where it's just, you know, it's one of those like, cultural, like, industrial norms that, like everybody just kind of does. And we're like, “Well, we're not gonna do that. Like, that's stupid to us.”
Tyler Carroll 42:09
For like the slush pile, or for my MFA, one of the classes I took was specifically to help publish the university's literary journal. And I was one of the assistant editors for that. And so what does that mean? They sent like, literally 100 short stories to us. And we had to read through the slush pile is what is called and so what does that tell me now? Well, now I understand what the general demographic like the general writer is writing about. So that gives me an understanding, well, what it’s like.
And then I also studied Classical and Contemporary Fiction. Now, what made those writers stand out? Well, they were always looking into the future. And so when people start writing about interesting stories or interesting ideas, sometimes unfortunately, the markets just not in demand for that, too. And that's a totally different conversations like, this is good, good writing. It's not marketable right now. You're behind the times, unfortunately. Or you may be too ahead of your time, you know. Like, let's figure out how we can find that balance.
And that those are things that, like, we're learning to understand that much more, because we have put ourselves in this community.
Brock Briggs 43:13
Can you guys talk a little bit about, we've kind of jumped around a little bit, but can you talk about, I guess, so this started out as like an online blog. Right, Keith? Can you talk about the development? And at what was the tipping point for when you, talk about what you were doing with that? How long that ran? And then at what was the deciding factor of, “hey, this needs to be a business” and like, maybe the development of the business? And it's something that I'm in particular curious about is, obviously, you guys are not doing this for nothing. I don't believe DRC is a nonprofit by any means. How do you balance? There's so much in the veteran community that's like about giving back. How do you balance like, “Hey, we need to like we're making this a business and but also trying to do good at the same time.” Does that make sense?
Keith Dow 44:06
Yeah, I think I mean, we understand the value of sustainability. And we also understand the value of passion. So balancing those things is important. And, you know, we want to I think, every project that we've done, Tyler and I, go into with the idea that it's going to find the next one, you know. It’s important for one to do well, because like you know, we've had little missteps where like, we've thought something is going to do well. It hasn't. You know, everything is done pretty well. But there's been a little you like one or two things were like, you can tell like we thought it was gonna do better than it did and it did not. And so like having those expectations is sometimes disappointing.
But I mean in terms of have, you know, switching over to the monetized side, from you know, from a blog. Really, it’s sustainability. Are you gonna be able to sustain just doing something for free forever? Like, in the business world, like you should, you have to, you can't expect to take a paycheck, you know, first day. You have to be willing to do some work for yourself for free. That's not working for somebody else for free. That's, you know, actually like fueling your own passion project and stuff, or doing what you know, is going to do well, eventually.
So I think with that, like, with this being, like project oriented, Tyler and I have always, like, done each of these projects, knowing that if one is doing well, it's gonna fund the next one. You know, and it's gonna. And then collectively, those things are all going to fund the great, you know, the greater good. We also like in the altruistic sense, you know, we do those different charitable projects. So like, you know, we have like a series of the developmental courses right now.
And the third one in this series is a recovery based course that my partner's teaching and all the money is going, so we're going to kind of try to do that with these developmental courses. Like, you know, when we do a season or a series of them, one of them is going to be donation based. And also the donations are going to fund, you know, something else that somebody else is doing. And same with the poetry anthologies that we do. Like all the money from those right now goes to HunterSeven, has gone to different like nonprofits and charities in the past. So we try to do those, just to keep ourselves honest, honestly,
Tyler Carroll 46:54
That talk more about like the business, I think he mentioned at the beginning, like I wear multiple hats. And so like, it's hard to like, see the world multiple different ways. But I think that's a gift of a writer too, as you can. And so the creator, artistic writer, and he sees the world one way, then the business side of me sees another thing. When we were just the blog site, essentially, I know, what I noticed is like, there's a dozen of these, like, just within the veteran community. And each one of them brings something different to the table. They appeal to different demographics and everything.
And when you look at the business side, it's like, okay, that's your consumer. What do we offer that's that much different? It's just a blog site. Well, at that point, it was just really us two. And it's like, in order to create something like that, you have to continually put out that content. And I remember, like in an essay, or article, whatever, five pitfalls with money for private or something like that. Like, I hated it, because it was like, that's not how I write. I don't, that's click bait. That's...
Like well, what value does it have? Everybody knows them, you know, like, there's some value, I guess into it. And people thought it was funny or whatever. But like we're not necessarily journalists. And we're not trying to go get the news and this and all that. Or really Op Ed pieces, like opinions.
And so it's like, okay, well, then we're not really bloggers at that point. We want to tell the story in a long form. And we're also more about the arts. So that was the poetry. And so we're like, well, there is no publishing companies in the veteran community, publishing companies at large. But how do we again, how do we bridge that gap to tell the veteran story to a bigger platform? And it's like, we need to publish books at this point, because that's not happening.
And so we saw that opportunity and say, how do we make ourselves more relevant, like within like, I think about it a lot like within the fire service. The fire service is becoming irrelevant in a way because the inspectors and investigators are trying to put us out of job because buildings are being built. So well, fire resistant, and insurance companies are making claims, whereas if the house burns down. It's just cheaper to honestly just pay it off, you know? So how does the fire service become irrelevant? Well, now we do EMS, you know. We provide medical service. Now, we provide community education. We become a face for all that other stuff.
And so you have to see everything. How do you become relevant in the future? Because if you're thinking about right now, you're behind the curve. And so that was like the determining factor where it's like, we, again, sustainability. We can't sustain just a blog, just between Keith and I. And the type of writings that we like, aren't going to just be blog writings. Like we like to poetry, we like all this other stuff. So we thought about like the literary journals or the lit mags and all that stuff, and then long books and so like, that's something that's not being provided in our community at this time. So let's be that those people to help people see their projects through.
Keith Dow 49:53
And it's not gonna go anywhere as easily, you know, like a blog. A blog, can you know, if you like, leave it dormant. Like, I had this really cool blog. And then eventually, like, you know, it’s got all this stuff saved, but eventually like it goes offline. Same with like social media. We've seen, we're old enough now that we've seen a couple different social media platforms, crashed and burned.
And then those and that's kind of where like, the initial idea for the blog came out of two was that. Like, it was at a time where a lot of a lot of things were happening in the world, that like, our peers were speaking on. And I was like, “Man, what a shame because like, I've seen that shit, like, you know. Send me a MySpace bulletin from, like, 2002. Like, you can't because it's gone.” You know, and I don't think Facebook is anywhere near the same. Because nobody from MySpace, like Tom from MySpace never had to testify in front of Congress.
But it is for so, it's probably not going anywhere. But it is for sure, a possibility. And wouldn't it be a shame for you to write this, like, you know, beautiful, like first draft of an essay in a freakin’ status, and then have it be gone.
So, that was really one of the main motivators was to create books. Because books, you know, books can get destroyed and all that. But I mean, if you press a couple 100 of them, they're floating out there in the universe versus whatever, in you know, you might find one in the US bookstore. It’s much more mysterious. And you know, it's a cool thing, like to be able to find. Like I've gotten into Vietnam veterans poetry, we are, by no means, you know, the first people to do this.
There were people that were coming back from Vietnam and doing the same thing, starting small presses, you know, creating different anthologies of poetry and short stories and stuff like that. And then, and even, you know, one of the poetry anthologies that I have from like, Vietnam veterans, they were donated, pooling all the money back to relief in Indochina, you know. Like and we found all this out after, like, after the second poetry anthology. But you know, that's a common desire to, like want to leave some sort of legacy. One thing among the veterans.
Brock Briggs 52:24
I think that that's true, probably of anybody, but maybe, especially people that are kind of creative, or in this space. Just like when you really start to think about big picture. I've been, like, posed with the question and try to remind myself of this question, like, a lot, but, you know, if money was no object, what is it that you're going to be working on? And like, what are you going to be? And a lot of the things that people like, they're like, “Oh, well, I would be working at a charity.” Or like, and the reasoning for that is like creating a lasting impacts on the world that's positive, or at least positive and important in your eyes.
And a book like there's almost not much more that's lasting than that, you know,. Those books will still be around in 100 years, 200 years, you know?
Yeah, for sure.
That's cool. That's a really interesting dynamic. And like, what, I guess, how did you guys recognize that there was no veteran publishers out there? Was that just something that came as a result of like spending time in the space? And you're just like, “Oh, maybe we should do that.” Or I personally count myself a part of this cohort of people that's looking for opportunities to like that you're uniquely suited for. And a lot of times, like, you may not know exactly what it is that you should be doing. And when you talk to people that have like, gone way down the path that the way that they describe, it makes it sound just like “Oh, it was just an idea. And I just decided that, you know, maybe I should do that.”
Keith Dow 54:10
One of our more known authors, when we initially told him that we were considering starting a publishing company before he was one of our authors, told us that publisher was a dirty fucking word. And, you know, now he kind of is one of our closest friends. And for sure, you know, one of our rockstar, our champions. And I think that speaks to the industry. And it speaks to the veterans experience in the industry is that it is it is a fucking dirty word. You know, it is a negative experience for a lot of people. So we saw not necessarily that no one was doing anything similar at all, but that like no one was adequately or honorably serving the population that we wanted to. So, I mean, that's easy. You know, like, I think those are, that's where the best business models come from.
That's where the best business ideas come from where, you know, you start. You see a deficiency and you're like, “Oh shit, like, I can do that better.” You know, and I see that all the time. A lot of the merchandising and different you know, pre order packages and stuff that we've come up with are based on like, my experiences touring with hardcore bands in the early 2000s.
People are always like, “Oh, it's so cool to have a t- shirt with a book.” I'm like, yeah, like, this is literally what we were doing when we're, you know, 17. Yeah, you know, having a plethora of items, like with whatever the main thing is, you know, is really cool. It's also really fun. Like, that's you know, one of the parts that Tyler and I enjoy the most about working with an author is that we can do things like that. We can come up with these cool little unique items, you know. And these are like Limited Edition T-shirts that also tie in with the book.
Tyler Carroll 56:14
I think like you said, like, the music industry kind of influenced us, even like the movie scene as well. I saw. Personally, I saw all these stories just being somewhat distorted in Hollywood eyes and all that and like, that's the All American hero type of thing. And it's like, okay, well, that's not really the case usually. And like I was in the 173rd, the deployment after Restrepo. Like, when you watch that documentary, like that's what it was like, you know, like that's the truth.
And so, I've always liked documentaries, you know, in usually any kind of independent films. And it's because they're not necessarily as concerned about the propaganda necessarily. And they're not necessarily as concerned about the money. And as those as money as a motivating factor, like I think most death and one of the Netflix documentaries about hip hop thing, he's like, “Money was never like the focus, but she was in the passenger seat. We made sure she was buckled in, she was comfortable.” And all that, you know, like, that's the best way I think that to like look at it is, when you're focused on the arts, and you're focused on the story, and you're focused on the person. People see the authenticity in that. And that's what it was. The relationship we build with the author, when we put out one of their books, like I'm constantly sending them the book cover design. They're giving me the input. I'm sending them the interior book. And they're giving back feedback.
And so that book becomes something that they helped create, not even just the words, and the story in it, but the physical copy of it, you know. And I think to them, that holds so much more value. When it finally gets printed, where we've had friends that go with into a little bit bigger publishing companies, big ones. And they have almost no say in it, other than what they submitted. And then the edits that come back, like, they've already signed kind of their story to the publisher, so they can make those changes. And so we just were like, “No, let's focus on the individual, the person.” And that's what I get from it. It's fun, the relationships too, that we build.
Tim McCarthy 58:25
So what was that transition like, going from kind of like running this blog into “Okay, now we're lacking in this space. There's really no publishing companies that, you know, that work with veterans. This is what we want to do.” What's that transition like? Like, do you already have a plethora of authors that you're like, “Hey, we're good to go?” Or are you turning it up 10 fold and being like, “Okay, now we need to, like really find a couple books to publish.”
Keith Dow 58:54
We threw ourselves on the fire first.
You know, the idea. That's what Fact & Memory is a collection of co-authored poems from Tyler and I. And we, the whole intention of that book, was really to fine tune our process. You know, we also both wanted something out there. But we really wanted to create something together. And we wanted to create, you know, a product that we could use as a model. And, you know, we did it really well. We still have people complimenting it all these years later.
And, you know, telling us like, what a great collection it is both. Like, you know, the content, but also like the aesthetic. And so that was really important to us. That like, if we're gonna screw something up, then we do it to ourselves first. So when I say like, throw ourselves on the fire, like truly..
Like, literally did it. Yeah.
Like sacrificial lamb
Yeah, and just like most other stuff, like we just, you know, nailed it.
Tyler Carroll 59:59
Yeah, lucky. But it was a lot of hard work too. And yeah, the reception was like, it just confirmed like what we thought was already happening. Because to be honest, yeah, it was like a lot of people putting a little bit of poetry work rather than on Instagram in whatever it was. And I just was like, “Keith, I'd write poetry. Would you?” And he was like, “Yeah, I do.” I was like, “Well, let's make this book and like, show people that like this could be done, in a way.” And when we get the validation from the reception, it was like we needed. I, again, almost, I wanted to help provide that for others.
And then the anthology came out the first one. And so almost 40 veterans could say, now they're published poets and authors. And the book blew up and became a number one new release on Amazon, you know. And it's because you had 40 people promoting it and being like, “I have a freakin’ poem in here.” And it's a collection of people from all walks of life, that tells the Chi Watts story, you know. And it's incredible, like, amazing poems in there that speak to anyone and everyone, depending on where you come from. There's poems in there that will speak to you. And like, that was just such a good feeling to help provide that.
And then we had our own poems in there, too. And so it's like, “Okay, well, what's next?” And getting like Keith, and I like, this has been the slow process to kind of get to the point where we're at. But like, when we hit the ground running, we hit the ground running and like, we know how to make things happen when we want to make them happen. But like, we have other ideas, and we're always looking into the future.
“Okay, well, what's next?” We got these educational classes going on in the workshops going on right now. Because we saw a need for that, like four years ago. Because I didn't know how to give feedback to people that well. I could tell Keith what I thought of this stuff. But like, it just, I didn't know how to articulate that well.
So how I put myself in the space to understand how to give feedback. And then so, I honestly made, I put my own writing out there. And I said, “Hey, anybody who wants to critique this, let me know. And that you can send me something.” And then that gave me an idea of like, 10 or so people that understood how to read a piece of writing and give me feedback. And so it's like, okay, well, you actually understand this. And then these people don't sort of confirm, like, we need to be able to provide this for the community.
Keith Dow 1:02:16
It goes back to sustainability, too. Because like, Tyler, we were talking earlier about how like, we're, you know, these two groups, right now are like, you know, really good at some things. And I'm really good at telling Tyler, “Hey, you got to stop fucking doing that.” One of the things that I've had to tell him to stop doing is giving people feedback via Instagram, or like everybody that emails him and stuff like that. We've drawn a pretty hard line, especially in the last like year and a half, that we can't.
And this is another part of, you know, the industry is that like, there are not a lot of people that you can just like, send somebody a DM and be like, “Hey, like, what are your thoughts on this?” That's number one, it's not going to help you. Number two, I don't have time for it. I'm not going to be able to give you like substantial feedback on a poem that you send me in an instant message. So we have drawn a really hard line on what we will accept and how. And generally, like, we do not accept submissions that aren't intended for publication. Unless we're publishing a larger project with, you know, a whole bunch of smaller pieces, so like an anthology.
There's no reason that people should be sending a single, or you know, like, two, three poems at a time. If you want to publish a book, then you send us a full completed manuscript. And when you send us that manuscript, there's guidelines in our FAQ section on our website. Because it doesn't serve either of us, you know. We're at the same thing that's gonna happen to you is gonna happen to somebody else. The only difference with us because we're a veteran owned company, is that we want to see you succeed. So we may explain it to you a little bit more. But another publisher will, for sure, just throw it in the trash. You know, we'll explain like, “Hey, this is how you can do it a little bit better.” Or, and that's why we've outlined the submission guidelines so clearly as well.
But that's just like with anything, too. That's like, you know, emailing a business that's like applying for a job. It's like anything. And you know, you have one shot a lot of times. We'll take those extra steps. We will or if we see value in a story that may have just be riddled with grammatical and spelling, punctuation and stuff, but the story is there, then we can work with that. And that's where we also differ from a publishing company. I know I'm probably opening us up to a whole bunch of Marines sending us you know, manuscripts in crayons. But it's true, you know, we will work with somebody more if the substance is there.
Tim McCarthy 1:05:10
Well, I think just like having somebody DM you. Just like you're saying, like you had to say, “Stop fucking doing this. Like this doesn't like you're not, we're not helping,” It's offering a lot of value to the person that's sending the poem. But to you guys, as business owners and as the business, it's offering no value at all.
It's a very like one sided. It's a very one sided transaction.
Keith Dow 1:05:36
Yeah, I think it's the feedback component is really important. And it's, again, like Tyler was saying, you know, that's why we started the workshops. It's why we started the developmental courses. And we're getting some really good instructors in there to facilitate those and not have it just be us. But the problem that a lot of people have is that they don't actually know what they want for feedback. When they ask for it, a lot of times, I think people really only expect to be told that it's good, or it's bad. And that's not helpful to anyone.
And it's not, to be honest, I had like the Editorial iOS. I was compared to a working dog, right? Like, if you've ever worked with like military working dogs, those dogs only have like a certain amount of hours that they can work in the day. And those hours have to be broken up a certain way. Otherwise, they're no good, and they start like missing shit. And really like the Editorial iOS is no different.
I can only read so many things. I have a lot of trouble when I'm in school. Like right now, I'm reading this like Colson Whitehead book of like, short, like really short, like essays, memories, stuff like that. And I tend to read things that are like short bursts when I'm having to read a lot of like textbooks, articles, you know, pure peer reviewed research shit. Because like, my brain is fried by the end of the day of reading for school. And it's no different when like, your whole job is you know, editing and giving feedback and stuff like that and reading the product that somebody sends you.
Tyler Carroll 1:07:12
So you read through different lenses, like NaVi more community. Like when I just read The Things They Carried before any of this ever started. I read it and I enjoyed it. Like that just was my reaction to reading a book, you know, like, this speaks to me. I love it. So something that I think we could possibly do, you know, and you're inspired as a reader. But once you've learned how to read that much more, because that's all you do in the search studying it. Like I read through a totally different lens now.
There was a guy that I went through to the PB Abbate, a book club thing in Montana. Last July, when he told us how he reads like he's working on his doctorate. He's highlighting, like, themes within the book. So then he can go back and do Quantitative Research on them. Because he's trying to create the veteran lens for writing, you know. Like, how do veterans read the text? And so when you ask me for feedback, you're asking me a totally different question than you're asking your significant other, your friend, or your aunt, like, that's totally two different questions.
And we've had, Keith is good, little check valve for me. But you can't do that for people anymore. And like I agree, if it's somebody just that I know, and I've been friends with forever, I'll read it. And I'll probably give them just like, “Hey, you may need to think about this, this and this.” And like, that's as much effort I'm gonna give them and I let them know that right off the bat. But when you're talking about actual constructive criticism and feedback, I read through a totally different lens now than I did just two years ago, or five years ago. And so it requires a lot more effort for feedback. If I just want to read for enjoyment, I'm just, I can burn through it or whatever. But to read with that, it requires a certain amount of bandwidth. And yeah, there's only so much that you can give.
Brock Briggs 1:09:01
I think you're reading through the business lens now. You know, you started out and I think from a general business context, when you're like, maybe just starting out with something like with you guys, it was the blog. You kind of have like the shotgun pattern of like, it's all just you're trying to figure out what works.
And then as you kind of continue to move forward on that, you can kind of narrow the offering and understand, “Hey, what value is it that we're bringing to people” and, you know, being able to say no is such a big thing generally because not everybody is your customer. You know, it's not everybody has a great piece of work, you know, and that's that's okay to say. And you guys said something you're not doing anybody any favors by just accepting or publishing everybody just because you're another veteran, you know, you're a friend. That's like..
Keith Dow 1:09:55
The sustainability and valuing your own time too, right? Like, a doctor can't treat every single patient. That's why we have, you know, triage, like you can't, you can't do everything, can't be everywhere. So prioritizing it is important to prevent, like burnout in yourself too.
Brock Briggs 1:10:19
I'm curious and hopefully for our listeners to like, can we get a breakdown of like kind of a step by step process if somebody wanted to be published by you guys? What's kind of the general guideline of how that would go? How long it would take? Maybe some of the economics? Can you guys kind of walk us through that basic process?
Keith Dow 1:10:44
Yeah. So like I said, if you want to, if you have a completed manuscript, then the first step is to go on our website and look at the FAQ section. And in there, you'll find all the submission requirements. And then from there, you should then go back and look at your manuscript, based on those submission requirements and determine if you do have a completed manuscript. You know, then there's all kinds of things that we can have conversations about. Like, why do you want to write this book? Why is this book important for people to read? What kind of book is it?
We really like don't limit ourselves to any one genre. Poetry has for sure been our best seller, in every sense. But we don't limit it at all. But so at any rate, then, you know, once you put the manuscript in the document prescribed in those FAQs, then you send it to the email that's in there. Once that's done, then we review it. I'm in acquisitions. Tyler's the Managing Editor, I'm the Acquisition Editor, so it comes to me first. And I look for a couple different things. But mainly, like, the first things I'm looking for are the submission requirements. So can this person follow directions, you know, very similar to a lot of stuff that we experienced in the military. Some will get DQ'd, just based on the simple fact that like, you didn't follow simple instructions. And that's important for a number of reasons.
Once we determine that it's a project that we want, then Tyler will also review it. And he and I will, will agree on it, or disagree on it. And then some battles fight for a couple of weeks about it. But that's typically what the initial process is. From there, you get a letter from us expressing our intent to publish. Because sometimes, you know, we're talking about it earlier, sometimes people have simultaneous publications, or simultaneous submission. So we wanna make sure that since you have sent it, that you still intend to publish with us. And then from there, you know, once we hear back from the author, then we send out contracts and all that. And then we get started on the fun stuff, which is, you know, cover design and formatting and editing and all of that.
Brock Briggs 1:13:29
Very cool. And how many, I guess, give us a sense of how many you guys have done so far? Where are you guys going, as a company? What do you expect to do in 2022? if you've had those types of conversations? What is..
Tyler Carroll 1:13:44
This year? We have at least, yeah, we'll probably only have. I think we're gonna, yeah, we'll have at least. At least.
Keith Dow 1:13:59
And we, yeah, this year is gonna be really cool. We have a whole whole bunch of different projects in the shoot. Probably more than we can actually make happen. But that's, you know, there, we're not stopping, so it really.
Tyler Carroll 1:14:19
And as the business grows, the team continues to grow. Now we have educators, we get editors more so like then the process just much quicker, that much more fluid in everything.
Brock Briggs 1:14:31
What is a typical, like, start to stop like from the time that somebody sends in their manuscript, and let's just say it's good, like, you know, they're a candidate and it's in the format and like they've met all the requirements, and you guys want to publish it. From the time that they hit send on the email to publishing, like, I have a book in my hand. What is that? How long can that take? How long is taking..
Tyler Carroll 1:14:57
As short as probably like the quickest will be is three months. And that's hauling.
And right now it can take six to nine months, realistically.
Keith Dow 1:15:09
Sometimes we'll get manuscripts that have already been professionally edited, which is I mean, this is a great talking point, actually, you know. Now that you can self publish a book, if you want. You can also get a book edited, you know, outside of a publishing house. The problem with those things is very similar to any kind of like DIY or shortcut thing, in that, like, there are people who want to take advantage of you. So we have had some books submitted, you know, manuscripts submitted to us that are already professionally edited. And they are ready to go, you know. We review them. And they're ready to go.
We've added others that have been “professionally edited”, and sent to us, and they are not ready to go. So, and there are different types of editing services right there. But, my point is that, like, you can do things yourself. We get that question all the time too, you know, well, like, “Should I just self publish?” Which is kind of a silly question.
That's so silly.
But we're also like brutally honest about it. Like, yeah, you absolutely can, but like, you're not gonna get these things. You're gonna have to do these things on yourself. Or you're gonna have to figure this out for yourself.
Tyler Carroll 1:16:30
And it becomes a brand new bandwidth. It's like, can you do all this on your own? Because, and you absolutely can, people are doing it constantly.
People do it.
And again, like, I'm all about supporting the individual, like, that's, like, do it.
We have projects, like as much as we would want yours, we have other stuff. Like, if that's what you wanna do. If you're on a timeline that you're wanting to work on, that we’re not gonna be able to keep up with, then we'll help in any way that we can. But more than anything, it's just go get it, bud.
Keith Dow and Tim McCarthy
But like, there's also a different timeline, from poetry, and then fiction or nonfiction, actual novel or novella or anything. Like obviously, the bigger the project, the longer it's gonna take. But poetry is a lot different, because it's just shorter. It’s really what it boils down to.
Keith Dow 1:17:23
Yeah and different types of poetry too. So it'll sometimes be easier to write, or start to edit poetry into format it. And then other times, it will be a little bit trickier, depending on you know, the form that the poet follows and all that. Sometimes somebody wants something a little bit more complicated for cover. Sometimes there'll be some different, like clearances and stuff that are required. There's all different kinds of variables in the projects that we've encountered already, so.
Tim McCarthy 1:18:00
There's something super powerful about like, when somebody says, like, “Well, I could do this, you know. Could I just do it on my own?” And they almost expect you to say, like, “No, no, no, you don't want to do that. Like, let us do it for you.” There's something super powerful about just being like, “Yeah, you can,” like I have enough. We have enough projects, like go for it. If you want that almost like I'm gonna say consumer here, because I'm kind of like generalizing it, but to the consumer, that's almost like, “Well, wait, hold on. No, no, I want you to do it.” So that's a powerful thing. It's powerful in sales as powerful in construction. So I can only assume that that's a powerful, kind of like a powerful move in the publishing world too.
Keith Dow 1:18:48
Yeah. Construction is a great comparison.
Yeah, that’s a great comparison.
So, yeah, I'm gonna use that one now, for sure. Like, can you do it? Yeah, for sure. Like, and I, you know, like, and I talk about it, like, with my girlfriend all the time, like, can you know, can I do this? Like, yeah, I can do it. But yes, and also like, knowing when you're like, way, way over your head. You know, can you do it? Yeah, probably, but it's gonna look like a five year old, you know, paste project like.
Tim McCarthy 1:19:26
I use that line in sales all the time. You know, people are like, “Well, I think I could go get it cheaper.” You probably can. But yeah, probably, yeah, exactly. Like you're gonna have to do this all over again, blah, blah, blah. And they're like, “Oh, wait a minute. Yeah, let's just get this done here. Like where do I sign,” kind of thing. Have you, going back to like the people get like self edited, or you know, they'll like have it edited on their own. Have you ever come across a book that you're like, “I could tell that this is edited, like this is good. Send me the unedited version though.” Have you ever like done that?
Keith Dow 1:20:05
Brock Briggs 1:20:07
I was curious on something like that.
I'm wondering what lens you guys have as veteran editors versus like, if somebody is a veteran, and they're bringing the manuscript to a professional like, but is not military affiliated? How will they edit differently than you guys? Maybe?
Tim McCarthy 1:20:26
And that's what I was thinking.
Tyler Carroll 1:20:28
There's a couple of things that I think about when it comes to editing, are you editing for grammatical and punctuation? And just like copy editing?
Or are you getting the feedback of like, hey, dig deeper here? Are you, maybe we need to scrap this or whatever. And so as far again, like we're reading through a business lens, essentially. They were constantly reading the market of like, who's relevant? What's being talked about? What have we already said, within our publications? What can we offer different and stuff and like, that's the basic thing is like, before chain, like if your work is a nine or something.
But it follows this idea, and we just have somebody else's idea. It's almost exactly the same. And it's a 10. Like, you're just great, but we have something that, whatever the case may be, you know, it was like..
If you're saying something that nobody's saying, or saying something that nobody's saying it's a six or seven within our scale. I'm just using numbers to make it a little bit easier
To understand. But okay, well, let's help you get it to that 10, you know, in the way that we would do that is now through the MFA experience that I've had with editing. And then with Keith, just actually having a critical eye. Keith has a great eye for editing.
Yeah, as you can tell, he's not afraid to say what he's thinking that brutally honest feedback. But at the same time, when we're picking out a manuscript, what we're also working with is, again, that can relate to the fire service, when we're doing the interview, to hire somebody on to our department. Like, there's only 100 of us there. Can we even work with you? Like, yeah, you may be a stud. But..
Are you like likable? To be honest, too, like, are you somebody that we want to live in this house with you for 24 hours? Okay, now, there’s publishing side. Are you an author that we're gonna work with? Or is this something that's gonna be like, are you gonna be difficult?
Like, we're bringing you into that, like, our family. Like anybody who we've brought on now has become friends with almost every other author that we have, that part of the community that much more, you know. So like, are you somebody worse, like even working with, in like if..
Keith Dow 1:22:30
We got a few of those too, like, you know. We were like, Tyler, and I have like, a, you know, a little meeting after and be like, we dodged a bullet there. Like, that would have been a nightmare.
Tyler Carroll 1:22:42
Yeah, or we're like, we love this person. Like, let's encourage them. Like, they're almost there.
And like, we have a lot of those people who we don't have one contract at all right now. But we believe in them. We believe in their story. We're friends with them. And it's like, once they're ready, and we're ready, like, let's do it, you know. And that's what's also hard too is, we're at this point where we need something finished right now, because that's what we're working with, time and effort and energy and manpower. We're getting to the point where we can offer more, but you don't turn in an assignment that's 70% done, you know.
Or it's going to be received as an assignment done 70%. And we don't have, we do have the capabilities to help you see it all the way through. But that's gonna require so much more so like, it has to be something that we're worth, that we're spending our time on, you know,
Keith Dow 1:23:38
We take it I mean, bottom line is that we take it very seriously, regardless of what story you're telling, you know. We understand like the amount of time and effort that goes into creating a finished product. And the courage that it takes to submit it to a publisher or even an editor to get feedback to, you know, put it out into the world, like all those things, like, take a tremendous amount of time and effort in vulnerability.
And, you know, one of one of the best examples of that, you know, on a bigger level, even aside from like, the personal manuscripts that people send us is the poetry anthology that we do, you know. That was a project that was started by Leo Jenkins, and Leo has more faith in us. I always like joke than he should. He, you know, we've built a really like, beautiful, creative relationship with him. But that poetry anthology was, you know, was brought to us because he was like, you know, I think that I could do this for sure. But like, I think, you know, this is something that you guys should do. So, it's a project that we've been really lucky to work with him on, now for two volumes. And it's something that he was super passionate about. And he saw a light in us to carry that on and see it through. And we've done it twice now, together with him, you know. From the selection process to the artwork to, you know, everything creative with it. And you know, we don't take it lightly that people look at us as an authority and as a, you know, as educators and gatekeepers, like we really, really don't. We take it very seriously.
Tyler Carroll 1:25:34
Very huge responsibility, one that we were fully aware of, and we do our best to respect that. Again, you writing a book is the most personal thing you can do. And, again, this is business that we've had to learn because it is, yet we also want to keep it that personal, kind of customer service, essentially, I guess, if you want to call it.
Brock Briggs 1:26:01
Yeah, I'd imagine that a lot of the works that you guys are getting, and some of the words that I've read from other veteran writers are extremely vulnerable. And, you know, you're kind of pouring your heart out in a way and looking for kind of that validation of your story and your time and kind of the processing of everything that you've been through, I guess, in a certain way.
I'm curious what, so you guys started with the publishing. You've got these classes now where you're teaching, writing, able to give like individual feedback, and those. Where do you guys see the future of Dead Reckoning Collective? What is something that you're looking at, that you maybe want to offer in the next couple of years? Or where you guys are going as a business?
Oh, that's a good one.
Tyler Carroll 1:26:52
I think we have ideas. I don't know if we can necessarily just start sharing them, because then we're just like, speculating on some of them.
Keith Dow 1:26:58
Yeah, so we'd have to kill you.
Brock Briggs 1:27:02
But we'll bleep this out
Keith Dow 1:27:05
Tim, for instance, he's got the face for it, for sure.
Tim McCarthy 1:27:09
Dang it! It’s the nice face, man!
Tyler Carroll 1:27:10
I think definitely the educational side of things is where we're gonna put a lot of focus and effort along with the workshops.
Again, the one of the best things that we've helped on this creek to be a part of this community and help create the community. Again, Keith, and I don't have the time to give you the feedback all the time. But aspiring writers have clicked together within this group, and now they're talking to a whole bunch. So if we can help foster that environment, and make each one of those writers that much better of a contributor, and that much better have an editor, then all we're doing is making the community better at the craft. So I think the educational side of things, the workshop side of things, is where we're gonna put a lot of focus on.
Keith Dow 1:27:53
Yeah. Fostering those like professional relationships too like the, you know, the different collaborations that we've had with PB Abbate and Coffee Or Die Magazine and you know, countless others. It's just, it's such a cool thing to do, you know, to be able to say, like, “Well, like, we don't have the bandwidth for this. But like, there's this thing that's happening, and you should check this out. Because it might be a little bit more in line with what you're talking about.” That's not really what we do. But they do really, really well. You know, there's a whole bunch of different things within the literary industry, in the veteran community. That these things are happening all the time, especially with, you know, with writing and, you know, writing workshops, courses.
Tyler Carroll 1:28:44
One example that, like I've had the idea to do with a passion, too, is like a literary journal, or literary magazine, you know. And I was bugging Keith about it for years to like, “Let's do this. Let's do this. Let's do this.” And he made the comments eventually, like, we can only be great at so many things. So if we put this out, how good is it really gonna be? How much time are we really gonna be able to offer, put into this, you know. And then at the same time, Coffee Or Die, putting out their magazine, you know, so it was like, perfect. So now we have a working relationship with them, where some of our authors have been able to go over there and get into their magazine. And Keith and I are published through them as well now, you know. And so, again, now, it's about networking and getting into bigger publications, and using the resources and friends that we have developed over this time, we're, again, same thing. Not that we're passing you off to somebody else, we're passing you off to a friend and we're calling you a friend or something, you know. So that's part of it is both, we understand our niche. We understand our value and who we are. And we're gonna continue to develop those. And we're gonna continue to broaden those spaces. But as of right now, this is what we offer and we're proud of it.
Brock Briggs 1:30:00
I think that at a certain point, like you mentioned it earlier, but you can't do a lot of things super well. And it's okay to just be really, really good at one thing, because there's somebody out there that needs that. I'm always kind of curious to talk to other veterans and see, I guess, is there anything that stands out to you guys, maybe outside of the writing field? You know, you guys are kind of in that specific niche, but do you feel or see unmet needs in the veteran space that are like interesting to you, or stand out to you on a personal level?
Tyler Carroll 1:30:44
So like, as far as like a business thing, or like a nonprofit coming up, I don't know. I'm only focused necessarily on what we can offer within those. I really dig what other people are doing and what other organizations, 107, for example, really, really dig that, you know. And so like, I think, as far as like an entrepreneurial aspect, those people are gonna find the space just like how we found this space. And I think like real recognizes real. As soon as something happens like that, yeah, that we see, it's like, alright. They understand the need and understand the vision of where we're going. I have my opinions of what is going on in the veteran community, right and wrong. And I think that we need to kind of tighten some things up. That's a different conversation, if you want to get into that.
Keith Dow 1:31:38
Real recognize real. The example that comes to mind immediately, also is Tom Schumann. You know, one of the most genuine people we have built a relationship with. And when, before we actually had, you know, spoken with him, you know, just brief interactions on social media and stuff. But before we had actually, you know, he was somebody that like, either of, you know, either him or us would call a friend, he had actually included a comment, like, some commentary in a research paper that he wrote for school, about our podcast, and how that it like, you know. It started great, and then fell short.
And then, so not only did he write this, and it was like, you know, essentially, like, bashing us a little bit in this research paper. But then, probably a year after he submitted it for his class, he sent it to me, and told me about it and told me like, “Hey, like I was, you know, I was wrong about this. This was a little bit short sighted, like, you know. You guys are doing all of these things. And I didn't know all about them, and I may have spoke too soon.” But like, you know, just like that he's such a genuine dude, that he would like to get that off his chest like to say, like, “Hey, I never would have seen that shit.” You know, but like that it was like bothering him that much that he's like, “Hey, like I said this. And I guess, like, maybe I was a little bit wrong and whatever.” Like, that's, it's just such a cool thing.
But yeah, definitely. Like, seeing what's going on in the community, and, you know, just keeping an eye on it. But you know, also, like, just out in the world, we like seeing original things. We like seeing genuine people passionate about what they're doing. Because we can relate to it.
Brock Briggs 1:33:42
Yeah, I think that you're able to see when somebody's intent is, you know, for good. And they're not like out looking to get fame, or notoriety or money or whatever it is, you can kind of, really, when you can understand someone's intent. That gives them kind of some more credence and makes you kind of want to support them and find out how you can help them. To kind of wrap up here, Tim, do you have anything else you wanna talk about? I literally could go on like, “keep going for like so long on this, but..”
Tim McCarthy 1:34:22
Oh, I know. There's one question that I meant to ask, but we just kind of like conversation took over. You were talking Tyler about the book that had like 40 different poems in it. And it was a number one seller in Amazon. And it blew up because 40 people were like, “Look, I'm in this book.”Was that a tactical move on your part? Or was that just like, it just happened? Did you intend on having this many people so that it would blow up or was it just like now that kind of just accidentally happened?
Tyler Carroll 1:34:56
Like, he said, Leo Jenkins gave us that project essentially, it was unfinished. But we had developed relationship with him. And we were very early on in this Dead Reckoning. And so we're like, oh, yeah, we want to hop on board on that, like, what's your goal with it. And he's like, I just want to pretty much elevate the narrative pretty much to get as many voices out there that may not be being heard right now. And we're like, all about it like that was like, it is somewhat altruistic. We just like literally wanted to help other people feel what we just felt when we put out Fact & Memory.
And so the product was so good, because there was three or four people going through each poem in the game kind of like, “Alright, this is an idea that hasn't been talked about within the poem by bam, that’s in! Okay, these two are really good. Alright, well, let's just put them both in, but they're kind of similar, but how do they differ?” Like that was just kind of the process of selecting and everything. And then once we finished, we were like, “Oh, man, we just given the voice of 40 people,” and then it blew up. And we're like, “Oh, man, like, that only requires so much effort on us to market because everybody else is doing that for us.”
But at the same time, what we also learned from that is, when 40 people are like working towards it, they all feel like they're sharing that load, which is good. But at the same time, like we had to understand that we are did like the driving factor to kind of keep that going. Like that is still our responsibility. And so like, when that many people are working for you and doing all the work, like it's great, but at the same time, like we kind of took a backseat, I think initially on that first one of allowing it like it to just kind of organically develop.
On the second one, we were like, okay, like, now we have, I think it was 70 on the second one or 60. And it was like, alright, like, everybody's gonna be doing that again. But when so many people are involved in the project, people feel like it's maybe not there as much as their responsibility to market or whatever. And that was like, “No, that is the publisher's job to do that.” And that was something that we had realized.
But it was definitely like, “Oh, that's why I did so well, because and then we're like, alright, well, let's do that again, obviously.”
Keith Dow 1:37:03
It's still for sure helps, you know, having that many voices. But that's I mean, that really is the point is having that collective community voice be heard. And that's what we've been passionate about with that project, in particular, is being able to get that many voices. There's so many different varying levels of, you know, military experience, writing experience. Some people, it's the first time they've ever tried to read a fucking poem, and they nailed it.
You know, some people are support, you know, support guys, or even combat arms guys who feel like they didn't do enough, you know, during their time in the GY that they didn't get their chance, you know. And they’re speaking about that. Other people are, you know, 10 deployments deep and talking about all the shit that they had to do. It is truly like a comprehensive, you know, creative presentation of what 20 years of war looks like, through that percentage of the population. Its a super cool thing to hold in your hand.
Brock Briggs 1:38:10
Well, and there's so much like you said, so many different voices, but everybody is kind of standing for the same thing. And it's crazy to see some of the same themes talked about themes earlier, like, that whole, like sense of, maybe not feeling accomplished or whatever. Like, you see that in people who served for years and people who served 40. Like there's a lot of those same issues are prevalent, regardless of who you talk to. Maybe not everybody, but and especially with writers they want themselves to be heard, but also other people's stories to be heard, too. So I'd look forward to reading that's on my list.
Well, cool. This is I think we could talk for much longer, but that just means that we'll have to have you guys back on if you're, don't think that you're the better doppelganger of us. So real quick, I guess. Can you guys give where people can go to follow along with what you guys are doing? Contact? Whatever you want to give out.
Keith Dow 1:39:16
Yeah. Website is dead reckoningco.com. Instagram is where we're most active on social media. And that's Dead Reckoning Collective. Twitter is DRCpublishing. We don't use it as much as we should, cuz it's dumb. And if you are interested in publishing with us, or bringing another project to us, you know, review the stuff like we were talking about, review the stuff that's on the website, but for sure, shoot us an email. And yeah, I mean, we're looking forward to seeing more projects, more people get into the craft and share their stories in whatever format they choose.
Brock Briggs 1:40:02
Very cool, well thank you guys so much for your time. This has been great!
Yeah, thank you!