Writing Non Fiction As A Side Hustle With Nick Loper. Podcast Episode 192.

Writing books can be a way of life as well as a full-time living, but it can also be a side-hustle, something you do on the side to make some extra income.

Today’s guest, Nick Loper, juggles a number of side hustle jobs stitched together to make a full-time entrepreneurial career, only one of which is writing non-fiction.

In the intro I mention the escalation of the Hachette/Amazon dispute with the launch of ReadersUnited and my own reaction to it, an update on the business book for authors, and if you’d like to support the show by funding my time, you can now do so on Patreon.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors. Kobo’s financial support pays for the hosting and transcription.

Nick-LoperNick Loper is an entrepreneur, non-fiction author and podcaster at SideHustleNation.com. His non-fiction books include Work Smarter: 350+ online resources today’s top entrepreneurs use to increase productivity and achieve their goals, as well as books on using virtual assistants and working on treadmill desks.

You can watch the interview on YouTube here, listen above or on the podcast feed on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcription below. We discuss:

  • What a side hustle is and how Nick juggles 8 different ones to make up his full-time income
  • work smarterThe empowerment of earning money outside the day job, spreading the risk and diversification
  • The hurdles and learning on the route to full-time entrepreneurship
  • How Nick came up with the topics for his non-fiction books
  • Process of writing – from idea to using outsourced resources to editing, cover design and publishing
  • Nick’s brilliant personalized marketing play that led to the success of Work Smarter. Check out his post all about his launch on Steve Scott’s site.
  • On standing desks and other health things for authors
  • Evaluating non-fiction writing as a side hustle
  • Various marketing strategies

You can find Nick at SideHustleNation.com and on twitter @nloper as well as his books on Amazon.

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Editing And The Writing Craft. Tips From An Editor

This is a continuation of the editing Q&A with my fiction editor, Jen Blood, based on questions submitted to me in a recent survey.

editingYou can read the first half of the interview here. It covers the different types of editing, how to find the right editor, price range and dealing with feedback. Here’s the second part.

How does the drafting, editing and rewriting cycle work?

In general, my advice to writers is to breeze through the first draft as quickly as possible. There may be times you’ll need to go back to rework sticky plot points or address other major structural issues, but the goal of the first draft should be to get the bones of your novel down on paper.

From there, there are several editing, revising, and rewriting cycles you’ll go through, ideally including beta readers, an editor, and a final proofreader in the process. Your ultimate goal is always forward movement—even if that forward movement can sometimes feel painfully slow. Every revised draft should feel a little bit better than the last, until eventually you have a complete, polished novel.

For a more complete analysis on the subject, read From Conception to Publication, my blog post breaking the writing, editing, and revision process down into ten unique stages.

How do I do structural revisions for fiction quickly and well?

I can write a certain number of new words per day–no problem! But I spend a lot of revision time staring out the window, wondering whether I’ve chosen the absolute best plot options.

First off, don’t just dismiss that time you’re staring out the window during the revision process—many times, that’s actually your subconscious mulling over what happens next. Of course, other times it’s just you staring out the window, so you do have to draw a line somewhere. When coaching writers through the revision process, I tell them to ask these questions about their novel.

(1)   What is the novel about? What is the plot, or central conflict?

First drafts tend to run incredibly long or incredibly short, but there’s rarely a middle ground. By clarifying in your own mind what you’re trying to say, you’ll be better able to edit your novel into a cohesive, saleable whole.

(2)   What are the secondary and tertiary plots?

Often, the secondary plot has to do with a romantic interest, but it may be another mystery, a subplot relating to the characters, etc. In one to two sentences, write down what the secondary plot is. In longer works of fiction, particularly sci-fi, there may tertiary plots, as well. Write down each plotline as succinctly as possible.

(3)   Where does the story begin?

This is key. Look at your central plot, and ask yourself when forward movement related to that plot actually begins. There’s a tendency to pack a lot of exposition into first drafts. Now is the time to start chipping away at that in order to determine how much is actually necessary, how it might be distributed more evenly, and how to convey that information in the least obtrusive manner possible.

(4)   How does each scene move the story forward?

Sit down and make a list of every scene in your book. What happens in each one? How does it relate to the book’s central, secondary, or tertiary plotlines? How long does each scene go on? Every scene in your novel, regardless of the genre, should be active and should move your story forward.

When you find yourself stumped during the self-editing phase, I’m a big believer in beta readers. If you have between one to three trusted betas, give them the manuscript with a brief rundown of your areas of concern. When they’ve completed the beta read, ask pointed questions about the issues bothering you. You can find more information on how to effectively utilize beta readers in this blog post.

The members of my critique group are trying to write our own books and/or short stories while learning the craft at the same time.

But every time we study something new, we feel that our previous works are wrong… so every week is like starting again.

What would you recommend to new authors about learning and writing at the same time?

As writers, we’re constantly learning new things about the craft. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been scribbling for years, ideally you will always be growing as a writer. The downside to that is that you will invariably find things to improve in the work you’ve done. The key is to not let that stop you. Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep writing. Finish what you start, and move on to the next project—it will inevitably be better than the last.

If you’re working with a group, set some guidelines: You’re allowed to revise a story two or three times, for example, before you send it out to an editor or submit it for publication somewhere. Once you’ve gotten some outside feedback, you can regroup and look at it again. The same goes for novels—don’t get caught up revising the same twenty to twenty-five pages your group has critiqued over and over again, ultimately neglecting the rest of the novel. Take the notes your group gives you, and move onto the next chunk of the book. Strive for greatness, but forget perfection. Finish your story. Let other people read it. Take their feedback, integrate the lessons you’ve learned, and revise accordingly. Then, move on.

How do I make sure my manuscript is ready for a professional editor? What are some tips for self-editing?

Excellent question. A good editor costs money, and the rougher your manuscript is, the more money they cost. It pays to submit a novel that’s been self-edited to the best of your ability. First off, I recommend picking up a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King. It’s an excellent resource for writers at every level, and if you’re hoping to make a living one day at this whole writing business, it’s indispensable.

In terms of concrete advice I can give here and now, there are a few things you can do.

The three most common issues I see as an editor are:

(1) Structural issues like plot holes, wandering timelines, and lagging pacing,

(2) Excessive exposition or lengthy chunks of narrative (telling versus showing)

(3) Awkward, clunky writing.

So, how do you ensure that you’re not sending a manuscript filled with all of the above to your editor?

Structural issues can be tough to spot when you’re sitting in the middle of your manuscript, and you’ve been stuck there for months. Follow the steps outlined in question two of this post to help guide yourself through the editing process. Additionally, it’s a great idea to call on trusted beta readers who will provide a read-through and call attention to anything you missed along the way.

For exposition and lengthy chunks of narrative, one of the most helpful tricks I use is to simply eyeball a manuscript. Are there whole pages filled with long paragraphs, broken up by very little dialogue? That’s the first clue that a story is heavy on the telling and light on the showing. Think in terms of a movie. How would each chapter play out on screen? Do you need a narrator to lay the whole thing out with lots of unwieldy internal monologues, or do you have dynamic scenes with strong dialogue and a particular goal for each of your characters in every chapter?

Awkward writing is less easily defined, and only comes with experience. Again, rely on your beta readers, but at the end of the day, your editor should be someone you trust who can help you hone your skills and ensure that the novel you put out is the best it can possibly be. Remember: Your novel doesn’t have to be perfect before you send it to the editor. That’s what you’re paying them for!

How do I know when to stop editing and move into the publishing phase?

This, to me, is the number one reason to have a professional editor on your side. Trust me, your editor will tell you when it’s time to stop editing and just publish already. If you can’t afford someone for a full edit of your book, many editors—myself included—offer partial edits of the first twenty, thirty, or fifty pages at significantly less than it would cost to edit the full novel. Even a partial edit from a qualified professional should give you an idea whether or not you need to continue rewrites or you can realistically start planning for publication.

Here at The Creative Penn, Joanna has taken a stand against the term “self-publishing,” arguing that there are actually many, many people involved in the independent author’s journey. This is especially true at this phase of the writing game. In my opinion, there is no way you can judge on your own whether or not your book is ready to publish.

If you don’t have an editor, turn to beta readers, preferably three or four of them. Ask them: If they were buying this book on Amazon, how would they rate it? Did it keep their attention throughout? Were the characters interesting to them? Did the plot make sense? Was the quality of the writing equal to that of a well-reviewed published novel?

Thanks to Joanna for asking me to answer these excellent questions on the art (and business) of editing! For any author, editing is an integral part of the writing process. Whether you’re new to the craft or an old hand, the key to a successful edit is seeking help when it’s needed. Ask for feedback. Recruit beta readers. Join a writing group. Hire an editor. We writers are a mighty tribe these days—there’s no reason to walk the path alone!

 Do you have any questions or comments on editing? Please leave them below and join the conversation!

Jen BloodBio: Jen Blood is the bestselling author of the Erin Solomon Mysteries, and owner of Adian Editing, where she offers comprehensive content and copy editing services of plot-driven fiction, as well as writing coaching and classes on writing and self-editing. She has worked as a freelance editor for Random House, Aspatore Books, Hyperink Press, Maine Authors Publishing, and individually for a long list of independent and traditionally published authors. Jen is currently accepting new clients, with a few spaces available through the end of summer and into the fall. Visit http://adianediting.com/ to learn more about her services, or contact her at jen@adianediting.com to schedule a $25 sample edit of your first chapter.

Contact Info:

Twitter: @jenblood
Facebook: http://facebook.com/jenblood1
Website: http://adianediting.com/
http://jenblood.com/

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons editing a paper from Nic McPhee

Author Entrepreneur. Go Direct And Sell To Your Customers With Jim Kukral

Multiple sales channels are a way to prevent being dependent on one source of revenue, and authors need to be aware of all ways to make income from their books. I recently wrote about my options to sell direct to customers, and today, I discuss this further with Jim Kukral, a veteran of the online business world.

In the intro I discuss my recent trip to Toronto where I spoke at the Kobo HQ, as well as the launch of Delirium and an update on the business book for authors.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

jim-kukralJim Kukral is the author of Go Direct: The Content Creator’s Guide to Eliminating The Middleman and Avoiding the Gatekeepers.

He runs Author Marketing Club, where you can get useful free services to help get your book noticed, as well as premium tools like the Review Grabber and HTML formatter (which I use personally.) Jim also co-hosts the Sell More Books Show with Bryan Cohen.

Go DirectYou can watch the interview on YouTube here, listen above or on the podcast feed on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcription below. We discuss:

  • Whether you can learn to be entrepreneurial
  • What selling direct is
  • Amazon ranking vs. building relationships with readers
  • The power of building a platform of true fans
  • The services available for selling direct
  • Crowdfunding and Pay What You Want strategies
  • Artistic patronage
  • Creating community and connection with readers

You can find Jim and his books at JimKukral.com and on twitter @jimkukral, and check out the book at GoDirectBook.com

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Author Entrepreneur. How To Sell Books And Products Direct To Customers

An important consideration for your business is diversity of income streams.

moneyYou don’t want to be over-dependent on one source for your money, because if it dries up, you will suffer immediately and your business may fail.

You will end up with no power in that relationship, and no choice but to do what that company wants in order to continue working with them.

The Amazon/Hachette dispute has been the catalyst for my own move into direct sales of books, even though I have been selling courses online for a number of years now. Amazon represents 60% of Hachette’s ebook sales in the US, and 78% in the UK, according to GoodeReader in June 2014. Once another company/platform has that much control over your business, negotiations are always going to be difficult.

Where do you receive your revenue from?

How many different sources does it come from? Is your business sustainable if any channel disappears or changes terms?

Indie authors love Amazon, because they pioneered self-publishing for ebooks and enabled authors to make a living online. But we’re also aware of our dependency, and Amazon is a business, not a charity.

Jeff Bezos himself, in an interview on Charlie Rose, said that one day Amazon will be disrupted. It’s also their business, so they get to change the rules when they want. So do Kobo, Nook, Apple and any other companies that sit between the author and the customer. I’m not talking about exclusivity here – I publish on all these platforms and plan to continue doing so, but I can still build my own channel on the side.

Building a direct channel for sales is one option to grow an income stream that has no intermediary except a buy button. It also enables the author a way to learn more about their customers and create a direct relationship through email.

craft fairSome customers are now actively looking to buy directly from artists, wanting to support creativity on the personal level rather than through a global conglomerate. I’ve had emails from people who refuse to buy from the big stores for ethical reasons, and the rise of indie movements in craft, farmer’s markets and start-up culture have made consumers more aware of the little guys and more ready to support them.

So here are your options for direct sales. This is a chapter excerpted from my book on business for authors.

Sell ebooks/audiobooks/courses or other digital files from your website

Customers can manually transfer digital files onto e-reader or mobile devices in order to read them. This means you can sell .mobi files for Kindle and .ePub files for other devices, as well as PDF or any other formatted files directly from your site, and use a shopping cart through PayPal or other services to process the payments. Customers can purchase directly on your site, receive the download and you receive the money. There are a number of services you can use.

I’ve been using e-Junkie.com for a number of years, and the $10 fixed monthly payment/no transaction fee as well as affiliate options are great for selling online. However, it is Paypal or Clickbank only payments and the customer’s experience is not that intuitive.

You can also just use a Paypal Buy button on your site, but again, it’s not very sophisticated and nowadays, there are options that include email and social integration, as well as analytics. When I decided to sell my books directly from my website, I evaluated the following options:

GumroadGumroad

  • Great customer interface. Supports creators in 40 countries. It’s quick to integrate Gumroad onto your website, sell on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud, and through your own email newsletter. You can set up discount codes. Detailed analytics.
  • 5% + 25¢ per transaction with no additional monthly, hosting, or setup fees. Everything is covered–file hosting, file downloads, payment processing, payout deposits, customer support, analytics and dispute fees. Consideration for sales tax, including US rules
  • Specifically doesn’t accept Paypal – explained in detail here – but it’s about control of the interface and customer experience
  • Can be used for physical items as well as digital. Includes subscription content – great for serials, or for recurring delivery of content
  • Used by Jim Kukral for his GoDirect book (all about direct sales!)

PayhipPayhip

  • Everything you need to promote and sell your ebooks to your social network. Specifically aimed at easily shareable. Customizable sales page – which is already very attractive with the default options. Ebooks only.
  • Pay what you want pricing + discount coupons. PayPal only payment. You are paid directly after purchase. 5% per transaction, taken after PayPal fees.
  • Google analytics integration
  • Used by Chuck Wendig on his book pages

SelzSelz

  • Fantastically easy to set up and great design with a pop up within your website so the customer doesn’t leave
  • 5% + 25c per transaction. Can use both credit cards AND Paypal
  • Easy social integration, as well as integration with Aweber mailing list. Responsive design means ability to buy on mobile devices
  • Audio and video previews
  • Can be used for physical, digital and services
  • Used by CJ Lyons on her book pages

You should investigate all these as well as any other more recent developments in order to find what fits your business the best.

Personally, I am now using Selz for my ebook and (coming soon) non-fiction audiobook sales direct from my website. You can see examples on TheCreativePenn.com/Books and also JFPenn.com book pages. My main reason was that, as a customer, I like to be able to pay by Paypal or bank card, so I wanted both options. I also like the audio and video extras as I think multimedia will become every more crucial in sales. It also integrates with my Aweber email lists so I can develop a list of buying customers, separate to the list of people who download my free stuff. I’m still using e-Junkie for my courses as that is all set up and works well.

Sell print books/physical product from your website/online

Many authors buy and hold their own stock so they can sell signed copies of books from their websites. Other authors have DVDs, physical products like microadventuresT-shirts or other merchandise, like my friend Alastair Humphreys. Again, you can use Paypal Buy buttons on your site for physical sales as well, but for extended functionality, check out:

  • Gumroad, Selz, e-Junkie all have physical sales options
  • Woocommerce has specific WordPress themes and customization for physical products and catalogues
  • Shopify

I don’t focus on physical sales in my business model so I can’t share my experience. But if you’re going to go ahead with physical sales, please do your research and consider print on demand or drop-shipping, where the product is made and delivered straight to the customer without you having to hold stock. Otherwise, you will need to pay for stock upfront, hold it or warehouse it, as well as shipping it. Lines at the post office are no fun, and neither is a pile of unsold stock in your house. Trust me, I’ve made that mistake and made a business decision to focus on digital products primarily because of it.

Sell physical products in person

The rise of the indie movement across all industries has seen a renaissance in craft fairs, local markets and people interested in buying directly from the creator. You may also be a public speaker wanting to sell books at the back of the room.

square paymentsIn the past, you need to register for expensive swipe machines for various banks in order to process credit/debit card payments in person as a small business. But there are technologies emerging now to suit the small business. These are mainly available in the US and Canada right now, but are spreading globally.

  • Square – a small plugin card reader for your phone or iPad. Accepts all major credit cards. Deposits next day into your bank account. 2.75% price per swipe.
  • Paypal Here – a separate card reader that works with your mobile. One off fee for the reader and then 2.75% for chip and pin cards or Paypal
  • Intuit’s Go Payment – Plug in swipe device with signature that works with your Apple or Android mobile and all major credit cards. Works with QuickBooks accounting software. Has pay-as-you-go or monthly rate charging with swipe rates 1.75% – 2.40%

Asking your customers for support

There are also a couple of other models that come under the ‘sell direct’ umbrella.

  • Crowd-funding. Sites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo or PubSlush for books allow fans to contribute to costs upfront so special projects can be made. It generally works best for original ideas, rather than asking for readers to pay for editing a book by a first time author.
  • patreonPatronage or support. Amanda Palmer’s TED talk on the art of asking as well as her incredible Kickstarter campaign encouraged people to think more widely about how creative work can be funded. If you produce great work and your readers want your books, then they want to pay you for your time and your work. Patreon is a site that allows subscription payments to continue as long as the artist continues to produce work e.g. $5 per comic produced. Some creators and podcasters are now asking for ‘support’ of their work through purchase of books, products or by giving money directly, rather than receiving advertising revenue from corporates. [I'm actually considering this for my own podcast, which costs time and money every month. I'd love to know what you think about this in the comments if you listen to the show.]

All of these require an author platform

If you want to sell directly, or if you want to explore crowdfunding or patronage, you will need an author platform and people who know who you are and are keen to buy. You will need traffic to your website, and you need an email list so you can tell people when there are books ready to buy. I’ve covered all these topics in ‘How to market a book‘ or you can check out the articles on marketing here.

Images: Top – Flickr Creative Commons money by Epsos; craft fair by Malisia;

Love Thrillers? Double Launch Special. Delirium And Thrill Ride Box-Set

It’s a double-launch day today and you can share in the fun by getting 9 full-length thrillers for under US$2!

ThrillRide Delirium3I’m launching my latest supernatural suspense thriller, Delirium, today, and you can also get the first in the series, Desecration, in Thrill Ride, a box-set of 8 thrillers from bestselling and award-winning authors. Read on for the details or to buy now!

[Delirium will be returning to standard price of $4.99 on 5 August so buy now to take advantage of this launch special.]

deliriumDelirium, London Psychic Book 2

“Those who the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.”

LONDON. When a prominent psychiatrist is found murdered in the old hospital of Bedlam, Detective Sergeant Jamie Brooke finds herself investigating the history of madness to fathom the motive. Blake Daniel, a reluctant psychic, helps her to research the case, only to discover that his own family are entwined with the shadowy forces that seek to control the minds of the mad.

As the body count rises, and those she loves are threatened, Jamie discovers that the tendrils of conspiracy wind themselves into the very heart of the British government. Can she stop the killer before madness takes its ultimate revenge?

A thriller with an edge of the supernatural, Delirium is a story of love for family, revenge for injustice and the question of whether we all sit on the spectrum of madness somewhere.

Sample or Buy Now on Kindle, Kobo or Nook – coming soon on iBooks and in print and audio formats

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Thrill Ride. 8 Pulse-Pounding Novels Including Desecration, London Psychic Book 1

Murder, conspiracy, corruption, kidnapping, demons, fugitives and a world poised on Armageddon…

Thrill RideGrab a seat and hold on tight! Because this 8-book thrill ride by some of the most popular names writing thrillers today doesn’t let up till the very last page.

600 reviews with a solid 4.4 star average across the 8 individual full-length novels. A nearly $30 value, available in this very special bundle for a limited time only. For sale in US and Canada only (due to various author rights issues)

INTRODUCTION – Steve Berry
SIDETRACKED – Brandilyn Collins
THE BLADE – Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore
THE ROSWELL CONSPIRACY – Boyd Morrison
BLIND JUSTICE – James Scott Bell
DESECRATION – J.F. Penn
THE KILLING RAIN – P.J. Parrish
DOUBLE VISION – Randy Ingermanson
THE CALL – Kat Covelle

SIDETRACKED – Brandilyn Collins

When Delanie Miller’s close friend, Clara, is murdered and a simple-minded man is falsely accused, Delanie must risk exposing her dark past and the lies of her current life–no doubt alienating everyone now precious to her–to clear him.

THE BLADE – Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore

While investigating the theft of a 4000-year-old biblical artifact, a federal agent runs up against an international fugitive threatening to destroy Las Vegas with a nuclear device unless the casinos pay a multi-million-dollar ransom.

THE ROSWELL CONSPIRACY (Tyler Locke 3) – Boyd Morrison

Combat engineer Tyler Locke races to unmask a decades-old conspiracy before Russian spy Colchev can find a mysterious object from the 1947 Roswell crash. With it, Colchev intends to unleash an electromagnetic pulse weapon of unprecedented power.

BLIND JUSTICE – James Scott Bell

Attorney Jake Denney has hit rock bottom, both personally and professionally. In a last-ditch effort to save his fading career he takes on a seemingly hopeless murder case–one that thrusts him square into the fight of his life.

DESECRATION (London Psychic – Book 1) – J.F. Penn

Detective Sergeant Jamie Brooke and clairvoyant Blake Daniel delve into London’s macabre world of grave robbery, body modification, and the genetic engineering of monsters to stop a murderer from claiming another victim.

THE KILLING RAIN (Louis Kincaid – Book 6) – P.J. Parrish

On the eve of a brutal storm, a boy is kidnapped–triggering a killing spree by two ruthless men using the boy as a pawn. Now Detective Louis Kincaid must find his twisted adversaries before they commit the ultimate horror.

DOUBLE VISION (A Quantum Suspense Novel) – Randy Ingermanson

An attractive but strait-laced genius with Asperger’s syndrome, Dillon Richard is on the verge of cracking the “unbreakable code” of bankers and terrorists. Who’ll get him first? The mafia? The NSA? Or one of his two beautiful co-workers?

THE CALL (Mythological Sam Chronicles – Book 1) – Kat Covelle

After a near-death experience, down-on-his-luck mythology geek and self-proclaimed loser Sam Wilson is pulled into a dangerous quest: Silence a demonic sound lethal only to angels so that exiled angels can return to earth–or mankind will die.

Sample or Buy Now in Print or Ebook formats

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Happy reading!