A longtime student of world religion, Buddhism, and psychology, Timber Hawkeye yearned for a less complicated depiction of the Buddha’s teachings than what the Tibetan temple had to offer, so when the Lama suggested he try Zen instead, Timber took off his maroon robes and moved to a Zen monastery far from home. While he liked the simpler message, he still felt the teachings were full of the same dogma that sent him running from religion in the first place. Believing that people are more interested in positive inspiration and motivation than in ceremonies and rituals, he conceived of a book that would empower readers to not necessarily be a Buddhist, but a Buddha, through gratitude and the consistent message to “be kind.”
“There are many incredible books out there that cover all aspects of religion, philosophy, psychology, and physics, ” he explains, “but I was looking for something less ‘academic’, so to speak. I was looking for something inspirational that people today would not only have the attention span to read all the way through, but actually understand and also implement in their daily lives.”
Thus, Buddhist Boot Camp came to be.
Timber started with a successful blog a year before publishing his book. He chose to publish with Lulu because there were fewer hoops to jump through than in traditional publishing. Buddhist Boot Camp is now available at all major online retailers, as well as select Yoga studios and independent bookstores around the world. Getting non-returnable print-on-demand books into brick-and-mortar stores is difficult, but Timber mailed copies of the book and press releases to them anyway (with a link from which to order the book at a discount), and a few stores have already ordered multiple copies.
In addition to his blog, Timber has maintained an active Facebook page (with more than 25,000 fans!), which he uses to engage with his audience. His sole intention is to inspire and empower others, so any promotion of the book is actually a promotion of the message contained therein, not a sales pitch.
“I initially included no personal stories in my writing, and kept each message focused on the lessons learned along the way (and the teachings contained therein), but when I did start sharing true-life experiences on Facebook, the number of likes and comments on the posts quadrupled! It turns out that people are more likely to step up and admit they feel the same as somebody else than to initiate being transparent and vulnerable without being guided. I just stick to being honest with the intention to awaken, enlighten and enrich the lives of others, and the rest falls into place.”
Speaking of falling into place, Buddhist Boot Camp sold over 1,000 copies in its first month of publication, teachers share it with their students, therapists are prescribing it as medicine, and adult educators give the book to inmates who really want to turn their lives around. “Timber’s intention to heal comes through on every page of Buddhist Boot Camp,” says Sheev, co-owner and founder of Samadhi Yoga Studio in Seattle, Washington. “We have copies of the book in our window and on the shelves, and we’ve been reading passages from it in our yoga classes.”
The owners of Sonadei, a unique apparel design company, really liked the book too, so they designed popular shirts and tank tops to help promote it, proceeds from which go to the American Cancer Society and National Forest Foundation.
Buddhist Boot Camp is on its way to becoming much more than just a book. In addition to new multi-language translations and an audio edition, retreats, workshops, and mindfulness-enhancing seminars are also in the works. Timber is planning a follow-up book that offers advice on non-violent communication, compassionate eating, and easy-to-apply methods for anyone to become more consciously aware of their thoughts, words, and actions.
As for advice to all would-be authors, he says,
“Start out with a blog, and write each word with integrity, transparency, honesty, and your targeted audience in mind so that you don’t lose them.”
And along the way, be kind.