C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Multiple Streams of Income for Writers

I just watched The Martian again. Loved the book by Andy Weir, too. It’s still the best audiobook I’ve ever heard. The message at the end of the movie (minor spoiler alert) is that things are going to go wrong. Paraphrasing: You can accept that this is your end or you can do the math and get to work.

So it is with author careers. Shit will go south. Then what? Then you have to solve the problem, and the next and the next and so on. Even better, see upcoming problems and plan so a glitch doesn’t graduate to a disaster as soon as it strikes. 

What resources do we need to solve most problems?

To solve problems on Earth, we usually need money, support, information or time. You can buy time by outsourcing and/or sharpen discipline and management skills. You can hire support to leverage time. You can purchase someone’s expertise so you focus on the skills you’re best at. (Don’t major in your minor if you can help it.)

If you don’t have the money but you do have time, digging for information costs nothing extra except for your internet connection. However, the most common denominator here is money. We generally need more of it, especially if time is limited (and, let’s be real, when isn’t it?) Life is short when you’ve got big things to do like write books.

The answer used to be simpler: write more books. I gave that advice myself and once upon a time not long ago that was enough. Now we need more margin for error as we find our way to readers. We all need time to write and ways to find traction in the marketplace. Sure, you can find lots of advice about marketing your books, but how do we get more money to help us with all those variables? How do we pay for a Bookbub to sell more books when the books aren’t selling much in the first place? Advertising and investing in your writing career takes capital (not much, but if you’ve got nothing, not much is a lot.)

Ideally, it’s great to find multiple streams of income that are complementary to your writing career. These might include: podcasting, Patreon, selling t-shirts, selling at conferences, providing complementary services (editing, proofing, book design, formatting), advertising, educational products, ghostwriting, copywriting, publicity, virtual assistance for authors, webinars, speaking engagements, book signings, co-op ventures, organizing book promotions, co-authoring, participating in anthologies, teaching, screenplays, teaching how to write screenplays and Thor only knows what else. Cross-promotion and cross-propagation of ventures makes your other job or jobs a good fit.

What about repurposing material you’ve already created for different venues and audiences? Abel James, author of The Wild Diet, repackaged his offerings in smaller books as well as providing material (and new supplementary info) to nutritional templates he serves up in different ways on the web. For fiction authors, consider publishing prequels, sequels, box sets or an omnibus of your series. (This may not qualify as a reliable stream in your multiple incomes if it doesn’t sell or takes too long to get to market.)

But maybe none of the above appeals to you or you just can’t see a puzzle piece that fits with your writing career. Okay, work the problem. What can you do? How much do you need? What debt can you eliminate? What lifestyles choices can you do without to free up resources? What can you sell or trade? Are you willing to move? What are you willing to do to protect yourself from starvation and insecurity? How will you earn the capital you need to buy writing time, book promotion, marketing and investment in yourself as a writer? (And feed the baby?)

My solution was to take on four jobs. Two of the businesses are mine and I worked it out so I control my time juggling all my projects. Entrepreneurship suits me better than working for a boss. (Me and a boss? That couldn’t end well.) I write more books, yes, but with kids going off to university I need a cushion between me and homelessness as I help them on their way.

Until we can reliably meet our responsibilities with one source of income (preferably by selling tons of great books, entertaining the multitudes and earning fans!) we all have some financial problems to solve. If all you’ve got is a lottery ticket in your hip pocket, please give it some more thought, just in case that doesn’t pan out.

What are your multiple streams of income? Suggestions welcome. 

~ Check out my author site at AllThatChazz.com. You’ll find a helpful podcast and oodles of SF, crime thrillers, apocalyptic epics and a self-help book called Do the Thing! So do the things. It’s sexy to do things.

Filed under: publishing, writing, , , , , ,

Changing my life: Writer Self-care

Since coming down with a wicked flu before Christmas, I was on a roller coaster ride regarding my health. Truth be told, a lot of last year sucked regarding my health (on top of all those dead celebrities I liked!) Life got worse before it started to get better. 

At the turn of the year, my problems came to a head. As my plane descended into Cuba, my left eardrum burst. That sucked a little joy from the vacation but Cuba was my first step in a new direction. Stepping back from working so hard gave me perspective, some time to read and time on the beach to think. It took me a month to fully recover from the ear issue and complications ensued from the medications I was on. Aside from a few headaches, all that seems to be behind me. How is this relevant to writers? Because our sedentary lifestyles and the constant push to write more books faster is killing us.

Killing us. No, that’s not hyperbole. Sitting is the new smoking.

There are plenty of solutions to the sedentary lifestyle and I’ve discussed them in this space before (e.g. cycles under the desk, tread desks, standing desks, Fitbits, Garmin watches, get out and move your ass, etc.,….) It’s not just about motion. It’s also about diet. As Tim Ferriss says, “Ounces are lost in the gym, pounds are lost in the kitchen.” 

Getting better and feeling better takes effort, but I needed a new groove so I was motivated to finally make deep changes.

As writers under stress (like anyone under stress) we often self-medicate. Self-medication can take many forms. Increased alcohol consumption is the classic writer cliche. Overdoing caffeine (that’s me) or spacing out too much with Facebook and video games might qualify as injurious, too. None of those distractions is bad, it’s just a question of how much we do them and what healthy, productive pursuits those activities replace. 

I’ve been very careful about my diet for the last month. I’ll spare you the details except to say I dumped sugar, wheat and anything that comes out of a box. The larger point is, I didn’t realize how sick I was until I cleaned up my act. Sick was normal. Feeling shitty was the daily and the regular. I was eating bad food as a stress reaction. Now that I’m not doing that anymore, I feel the difference between sick and well again. I haven’t felt this good in years. I’ve lost weight, my blood pressure is normalizing and I have more energy for everything, including writing.

Will I write as many books this year as I have in past years? Maybe not but now I think I’ll be writing for more years. (I had an inkling I’d be dead by 54. Now I’m less concerned my life will be cut so short.) My books are suddenly more popular than they have been so I’m very motivated to keep going. I have so many more stories to tell and series to finish. I won’t kill myself doing it, though. I’ve achieved balance and I worry less.

Sure, sure, Chazz, but how?

Everyone will find their own way, but I can give you a few ideas about how I’m doing this:

  1. Write a book about stress management. I did and it changed my life because, after preaching this stuff for years I committed to living up to my book. (The book is called Do The Thing!) In the final chapter, I made my readers my accountability partners. I promised I’d rise to my own ideals. (Accountability partners are key. I needed someone to report to so I recruited someone as well as blabbing about it weekly on the All That Chazz Stress Relief Podcast.)
  2. If you can’t write a book about stress, read one, obviously. Please pardon the shameless plug.
  3. Do the healthy things that work for you. What’s the best exercise? The one you’ll do and enjoy. Which is the best gym? The closest one or the gym on the right hand side of the road on the way home. Can’t face a hot yoga class? YouTube and phone apps have yoga. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the doable. Whatever. Just do the thing!
  4. Seek help if you need it. Help someone else if you don’t need it. Social connection and support is an important indicator of health and mortality, too.
  5. Do not worry about what you can’t control.
  6. Find your solutions with people who get you. One of the things that attracted me to trying The Wild Diet was that the approach was achievable, I could enjoy the food and the rationale made sense to me. However, the factor that really got me going with that book was that the author, Fat-burning Man Abel James, had been overweight and suffered health problems. He isn’t a personal trainer who had always been skinny and didn’t know the struggle. He isn’t the kind of guy who hates fat people and screams 1-2-3-4! (Looking at you, Jillian Michaels!)
  7. Make you a priority. This the the plea to enact the lesson of the cliche: When the airplane is crashing, put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. Since changing my lifestyle, I have more energy for my kids. They don’t care about my books, but they do want to hang out with Dad more now that he’s happy.

I could go on, but hey, find out more on my podcast or pick up the book or do whatever else you already know you need to do. Life can be better and longer. I know that for sure now.

All the best,

Chazz

 

Find out more at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

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