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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 22, 2012 6 years ago

Read me a story

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Naples attorney Jacqueline Buyze published a children's book about lawyers after she couldn't find any for her nieces and nephews. Now it's a business.
by: Jean Gruss Contributing Writer

Jacqueline Buyze was stunned when her 8-year-old nephew told her exactly what he thought of his less-than-perfect neighbors and the legal profession.

“Aunt Jackie, these people should be in jail, but you're a lawyer, you'd just get them out,” he told her.

Let's just say Buyze wasn't amused.

“I want them to be proud of Aunt Jackie,” she says.

So in 2008, Buyze created a book about lawyers for her nieces and nephews using office paper and computer clip art. “I just got up at 4 a.m. and by 7 a.m. the manuscript was done,” she recalls. She folded and stapled the pages herself.

The book became “A Story of Lawyers,” a children's book in rhyme about the good things attorneys do. It's been for sale since February.

“I'm on a national campaign of lawyer goodwill,” Buyze says. “Our profession is tarnished by the worst among us,” she says. “They aren't worthy of the negative perception.”

Buyze says she sacrificed her personal life to put herself through college and law school while working for the Ritz-Carlton before joining the respected Naples law firm of Grant, Fridkin in 2000. “I started my own mediation firm in 2007,” she says.

Buyze says the best publishing advice she got came from Naples intellectual-property attorney Jeanne Seewald, who counseled: “Whatever you do, don't put it out there until it's all you want it to be.”

Turns out, publishing a children's book is a monumental task. Buyze couldn't find a publisher until summer 2011, when she found Naren Aryal, an attorney who left the legal profession to start a children's book publishing business called Mascot Books in Herndon, Va.

Although Buyze declines to say how much money she's invested in publishing “A Story of Lawyers,” she says she spent $2,500 for a professional artist to draw a dozen illustrations.

Buyze says she bore most of the financial risk, but she'll be rewarded if the book sells well. “I own the rights to the book,” she says. “I paid for everything.” Mascot gets a small percentage for marketing the book to bookstores and other retail outlets (it's available on Amazon.com).

Buyze says her goal is to sell 15,000 copies. Her first print run was 5,000. The book costs $14.95. So far, she's sold about 500 copies. “I never wrote it with the intention of getting rich,” she says.

Buyze spends her mornings promoting the book and afternoons on her mediation business. Being an author is a full-time job. “I think it's on your shoulders to promote your product,” she says. “My plan is to start in Florida. Next year, we'll focus on the national and international markets.”

Writing and publishing the book was fun too because Buyze included her lawyer friends in it, such as Seewald and Jeffrey Fridkin. “I wanted to use actual likenesses of people,” she says. “They had to sign away their rights,” she chuckles, though no one is identified by name. (Interestingly, she says it's a violation of judicial cannons to include the likenesses of judges.)

Buyze says if this book is as successful as she expects it to be, she plans to write more. One she's contemplating is a children's book about judges, to be called “A Story of Lawyers with Views from the Bench,” and another about lawyers' charitable activities to be called “A Story of Lawyers Raising the Bar.”

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