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Two Boys, under Ten, raised a million dollars with self-published book

People write books for all kinds of reasons, from personal stories that the world needs to know to stories that came from a dream that tell of a distant world. Inspiration is want compels people to sit down and put into words something they experienced. Many people write their own books today in hopes that it might land them a steady income after awhile and many write books having never made a decent living off of it. In almost everything one puts their energy into there is a opportunity cost involved, sometimes that cost is high and sometimes it’s so low that it doesn’t matter.

In this situation though something special happened between two little boys that inspired one to do something great for his best friend.

A Special Connection
Dylan Siegel is a boy that most would love to have as a friend. At 8 years old he has accomplished what most mature authors can only dream of achieving, writing a book that earns them a million dollars. This is no easy feat by any means but his motivation is what helped him achieve this special attention because you see, his friend, Jonah Pournazarian, who is only a year older than Dylan has a rare liver condition that makes it impossible for his body to digest sugars, a condition known as Glycogen Storage Disease 1B.

This condition is very difficult to manage because it requires him to be on a very strict eating diet, which mainly consists of cornstarch, and schedule that includes 7 meals a day. If he misses just one meal it could mean he falls into a seizure and dies. Of the 7 meals he eats 2 different meals that provide him with the nutrition his body needs. Everything he eats has to be monitored and his blood levels have to be checked all the time. With the latest technology today monitoring blood levels is not hard, the hard part is making sure he has what he needs at the right time.

In an interview Dylan was asked about his friend and he said that his friendship gives him a special feeling inside that makes him happy to be his friend. It is his friendship with Jonah that has inspired him to sit down and write a book to help raise money to find a cure for his friend’s condition. How many young boy’s do you know that would take the time out to sit down and do something special for their friend? Not many but it happens.

Touching Lives
After Dylan got his parent’s to publish his book he made an effort to tell as many people as he could to buy his book. He set up a website to learn more about the story behind the book and to teach people about this condition his friend has. This has encouraged many people to get behind the cause and support his efforts. Dylan and Jonah has set up their table in many places to sell their book and once the news caught wind of what was happening, more and more people took notice.

The condition that Jonah has is extremely rare so it makes it difficult for pharmaceutical companies to invest any research money into finding a cure if the population of those with the disease is too low to support a profit. That is the nature of the medicine industry, there has to be enough people with the condition for there to be a solid effort in finding a cure. Dylan did his research and wanted to help make sure that labs working on finding a cure had the money to do so. He didn’t want to lose his best friend so he wrote that book to show that people care about others, especially when they are your best friend.

After getting the word out and the news picking up on the story, Dylan and Jonah now travel around doing book readings to audiences and book signings. They have created a facebook page to help spread the word about his cause and what else he plans to do with the book. In a recent clip on ABC news Dylan was happy to make the call to the doctor, Dr. David Weinstein,  who is helping to find a cure letting him know that he raised a million dollars for him. How many friends do you know who would go to the lengths that 6 year old Dylan has? Friendship is a powerful thing.

The Road Ahead
Dylan now plans to turn his Chocolate Bar book into a complete series to help raise more money including awareness for his friend. The book has garnered attention from all over the world with kids sending in video replies about how much they enjoyed Dylan’s book. The boys have appeared on many talk shows all around trying to spread the word.

The boys say that they will not stop, even though their goal was to reach a million, until they find a cure for Jonah, so that is when they will stop. The connection these two boys have made will be a life long connection. So far researches have been able to find a cure for the same disease in dogs now they need to bridge the connection in humans. Hopefully they will see the cure within the next few years.

The Business Side of Building a Brand
What these boys are doing is the same as what it takes to build a brand. They attend press events, they talk about their book, the story behind the book, and their mission goal. These are the most pressing matters when talking about your business and brand. People want to know who you are, how you got your idea, and where you plan to go with it. These are all the same concepts that any startup company, or writer, must go through to get their name out there.

Dylan got the business bug from playing Monopoly. His mom, Debra Siegel, says that when her son plays monopoly, watch out. He has learned that control of certain properties on the board puts you in control. The same is said for anything you do, when you cover all your bases and have gained enough ground then you can start controlling the flow of things. Dylan knew he was just a kid so he knew he was limited by what he could do. He knew that getting a book into people’s hands was a great way to spread his message so by sitting down and working on one he could show that he was serious by the effort he put into it.

When you look at the design and wording of his book you see that he drew every page himself, and wrote all the words himself. To an accomplished writer the book may look childish and poorly structured with no way of ever becoming a success, and that might be all the things they tell you in the publishing industry (correct grammar, plot line and structure, character development, etc). So why don’t these things apply to his book? Isn’t that why literary agents are so mean to new writers? They haven’t mastered these areas so why risk trying to become an author in the first place?

Dylan had the beauty of ignorance on his side. He was only 6 years old and didn’t understand how the world works as an adult so those things didn’t interfere with his train of thought, which was only about writing a book that him and his friend understood (chocolate bar stands for something awesome and cool) and that he could raise money with. What Dylan has that most adults do not have is access to social capital – school environments. Schools have lots of people in them and it is very easy for a kid to tell his teacher about what he is doing and then have the teacher put up an announcement in the school for everyone else to know about.

Adults do not have access to such resources after they graduate high school and college. They must rely on their social skills, what they know about business and marketing, and social media to spread the word. For many adults who have been trying that for years and have gotten no where with you understand the frustrations of what I am talking about. You also feel a little envy for why Dylan has reached his goal and you are still trying to get someone to buy your novel that you spent the last 5 years writing.

This is where Dylan’s success changes from so many others. I have met many kids in school who have used the power of social capital in their schools to help get their idea off the ground. It works faster when you are surrounded by a lot of people everyday instead of always having to hire someone to do one thing at a time. By using the power of social media, Dylan created a facebook page, a youtube channel, and a twitter account to help maximize the spread of his message. He had all his friends join all his pages and that helped spread the word even faster, so when you break down all that Dylan has, over the resources that an adult has, you can see how he was able to reach his goal of one million dollars and why he will be able to continue past it. Great Job Dylan and keep up the great work. Here’s hoping for the day when they announce a cure.

Enjoy This highlight of the two boys

News Articles

Boy’s ‘Chocolate Bar’ Book Nets $1M for Rare Liver Disorder Research

Boy raises nearly $1M with self-published book for friend with rare disease


Boy, 6, writes book, raises $92,000 for best pal’s rare disease

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