Book Reviews Revisited

When I started this blog, I included many book reviews of what I had read and enjoyed. Somehow, I stopped along the way and I think it is time to bring back book reviews on this blog. I think of myself as an eclectic reader – I read many genres and various topics; my reading is all over the place. Over the past year I read many books, mostly for education and my own benefit. I read books that were piled up over time as well, including authors such as Suze Orman, Tony Robbins, Donald Trump, Robert Kiyosaki, and many other non-fiction authors. I read fiction as well, one of which was The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk. I immensely enjoyed that one, and loved her writing style. Her use of description in that story is just perfect. Other fiction books included authors such as Paulo Coelho, Richard Bach, and many others. Various topics included real estate, finances, religion, inspirational, writing, and more. I read a lot. I needed it.

Once I read a book, I keep it, donate it, or give it away to family or friends. I donated a large box full of books to the local Goodwill and gave some away. I keep some for future reference, although very few. If a story touches my heart in a special way, I keep the book, revisit it, and eventually will give it to someone special in my life. Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is such a book. I love it, read it a couple of times, and kept it until it is time to pass it on to someone. I recommend this one. Another one I loved was Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I enjoyed this one so much. This one I gave to my niece. I keep few fiction books unless I want to read them again, or the story made such and impression on me that it becomes a keeper. I also keep the classics such as the works of Shakespeare, The Iliad of Homer, Aesop’s Fables, Huckleberry Finn, a few Ernest Hemingway works, and various more.

Although I read some books on electronic format, I prefer hardcopy. If I read an e-book that I want to keep, I will order the print. For the most part, I have remained a page flipper. Of the many books I read this past year, I decided to post a very short review of Becoming a Millionaire God’s Way by Dr. C. Thomas Anderson. This is not your ordinary money/finances book. Besides being written by a pastor, it takes on a different approach to money according to scripture; however, an almost opposed view to what traditional religious beliefs have taught (and still teach) about money (money as the root of all evil …). It is a very well-thought, smart-written, well-researched, and enlightening book, as well as inspirational. It challenges many traditional religious beliefs that share the point of view that the bible teaches poverty or that Jesus was poor. It will change a religious-poor mentality. It is a very interesting book. A must read in my opinion.

This concludes today’s post. I will continue to share more reviews of books that cross my path and hold my attention.

On Writers and Money

Question book

Question book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This may seem an odd topic, but it is one of the most annoying questions I get asked, directly or indirectly by people I know, and by strangers. It is asked as soon as the topic of my writing or books comes up. Besides annoying, I find it intrusive, and a lack of good manners. It comes in many forms, but the root of the question is the same. And the person’s goal is to know if I make money as a writer and how much. Here are some examples of the same question.

  • Are you making a living at it?
  • How much money you make?
  • Is it easy; do you sell a lot of books?
  • How are you doing with it?
  • I see a lot of people publishing books; how easy is that, is there money in it?
  • How long does it take to make it?
  • What else you do to pay the bills?
  • One can’t survive on that, right?
  • I hear the book business is not doing to well; all those book stores closing, right?
  • Oh, do you make good money?

I can go on an on giving you examples of the same question worded directly or indirectly.  When I think about it, the people who ask this question do not understand what writing entails, and most likely, they have a paycheck mentality.  I bet that for most writers who are serious and take their craft to heart, money is the last thing in their minds when they are writing.  Yes, we all want to make a living at doing the thing we love most; this is how it should be. We should all make a living this way, doing the things we love and are passionate about, but most people don’t. Most people don’t understand when someone’s passion goes beyond monetary compensation, or even fame/recognition. I bet that the majority of dedicated writers don’t care about money or fame; it is a byproduct of their love and effort while writing.  However, to be fair to all sides, there are those who write with the hopes of becoming e-book millionaires or gain fame and recognition in the field. Besides, there is nothing wrong about making lots of money and being blessed doing what you love and serving people. To me, writing goes beyond monetary compensation and fame (as a primary goal), and while I hope to one day do exponentially marvelous, that does not mean that I would love the craft more for it, or less if I don’t.

So by now, you are probably thinking what my answer is when I am asked. It usually goes along these lines –

  • I am very happy doing what I do, how about you?
  • I am lucky and blessed to work doing what I love.
  • I don’t price my passions; do you?
  • The day money becomes my story, that day I will stop writing.
  • I let the faeries worry about that part, while my Muse works on the most important one.
  • I am well.

And so along those lines it goes, usually the probing stops there.  So feel free to use those lines if like me, you get annoyed by the question. If you paint, are an artist, or live your passion, most likely, you will be asked the question many times. Some people don’t mind it, some people do, and it has nothing to do with how much money you make. Feel free to comment on the topic, how do you feel about the subject of money and writing?

Success – When it is Not About Me


Image via Wikipedia

This morning, I had a conversation with my sister about how successful some entrepreneurs become, and how financially rewarded they became.  Some examples seemed too simple to have landed in success.  When I looked at the simplicity of their plan and at the product/service, if  I had not known that their ventures were successful, I would have thought that there was no way that would work.  There was only one thing in common among these people – their venture met a need, filled a void, in a different way.  These people were helping other people with their product and they were making a difference with it.  One of the examples my sister talked about was of a woman who gave a pedicure/manicure to a pregnant friend who couldn’t go out to get it and certainly could not do it herself.  The result was that from helping that friend a lightbulb went on and she started her business, helping women in the same situation as her friend.

For many people, the first issue in mind when starting a venture is to make it financially, to make money at it and see results.  The more I look at other examples, the more I see a pattern – you have to want to help people first, and the success and the money will come as a result.  If you start thinking about getting money first, and helping people later, it just doesn’t seem to work.  This applies to any example, product or service.  It is understandable that people go into business to make money, but it seems that it is all in the approach, on how they approach the venture – the more worried about money, the farther from success.  On the contrary, the happier they are offering their services/product genuinely helping in that way the clients who need that product/service, the more successful they become.

By observing many of those examples, one has to conclude that success is not about me, on the contrary, it is about someone else.  And maybe, that is the only lesson we have to learn to become successful in our craft.  Once you have gone thru self-discovery, found your niche, heard your call … or whatever you want to call it, money should become second to helping your clients.  When you think about it, nobody wants to be seen as a dollar sign.  It seems to be more about being a genuine entrepreneur than being in business for yourself.

Writer’s Wisdom 96

Scared of Success

Are you scared of success?  Do you find tons of “important” things to do before writing that story or editing that final draft?  Do you come up with new projects to delay success? 

Many people have done this one time or another.  After all, success means changing the status quo and inviting change in our lives.  Change, even if it is good, can be challenging and scary for many people.  Anything that takes us away from our daily routine, even for a small amount of time, disrupts our sense of security, and puts us in a state of watch.  If we perceive that the change may be a big one, we may do things – without even realizing it – to delay change or avoid it, including delaying our success.

Today, think about this (just as I have) – are you doing something to delay success in your life?

Writer’s Wisdom 94

Writing for a Higher Purpose

Why do you write?  Have you ever thought about it?  Many writers dream to see their work published, or the movie come out, and their name in the best seller’s list.  This is all good, and striving for the best should always be there in our most important to do list.  However, we run into problems when this is all we care about, and all we strive for – becoming published and known.  When you put such amount of pressure on yourself, creativity will suffer. When your focus becomes something else outside writing, and your attention leaves the page, your work suffers.  When being published becomes more important than writing, you have lost yourself as a writer.

When listening to best-selling author’s being interviewed, most of them express that they love to write, and they would not have it any other way.  They are thrilled at how things have turned around for them, but number one seems to be the love for writing.  And by loving what they do, and doing what they love, the money seems to come at the right time.

You may think writers have to eat too.  And that is the absolute truth, however, you can make an income without losing focus.  It is when your attention is taken away from the story and put on the $$$ that your work will become weak. 

Why not write for a Higher Purpose instead?

Writer’s Wisdom 83

To Write or Not to Write – That is the Question.

When doing some freelance writing, especially if you are ghostwriting for someone, you will be presented with many topics or assignments.  Sometimes, those topics will be in clash with your values.  You are presented with the dilemma of writing the article or not.  What do you do?  After all, if you are ghostwriting, your name does not go in it.  However, your are still the writer of that piece, and you know it.  Where will that piece of writing end up?  So the dilemma deepens.

On one side you have an assignment that will pay the bills, on the other side, it will kill you on the inside to write it.  So what do you do?  There is no straight answer to this question.  You do what you do, and you deal with your feelings.  This is a personal matter and my motto is to live life, and everything I do, well enough so I can go to sleep peacefully at night – at peace with the world and with myself.

To write or not to write – That is the question.  And the answer is yours.

Writer’s Wisdom 76

Juggling Act

When you write for a living, you will probably cram your schedule with as much writing as you can, and many projects at once – some short-term, others, long-term assignments.  A lot of time can be spent in projects that do not generate enough income.  Learning to decide which projects to put aside and which ones to pick up is not as easy as it seems.

While a project may give you instant rewards, another will reward you much more in the long run.  Also, you may have to put aside your favorite project to handle a more profitable one.  Or you might have to cut a project to a few days a month, if that project is not generating what you want – and sometimes, cut it altogether.

This is why writing for a living is like a juggling or balancing act – you have to be balancing projects and deciding which ones to give a priority, which ones fit your needs at the moment, and which one to drop or revisit later.  Timing is also important, as a project that may have seem profitable initially, may not be, if you are spending more time in it than you originally planned.

Writer’s Wisdom 75

Pricing your content

There is no right or wrong here, in my opinion.  It comes down to what works for you and the time that you are willing to spend on a project and at what cost.  As a freelance writer, and independently employed, it is up to you to choose the type of work you want to do, and price it according to your needs.  There is a lot of competition in writing, and sometimes, it comes down to grab the assignment that will put food on the table.  However, you have to decide the amount of time that you are spending on a project, and if it is worth it.  Is that time better used to get other assignments that will pay better?  I have seen very low offers for work – as low as 20 cents for a 100 words … It may not appeal to some, but to others, it will make a difference.  The time that you will spend writing that 400 word article (or any other project) at that rate, is what you should weigh.

When pricing your content, take your personal needs into account, as well as the going market price for writing projects.

Writer’s Wisdom 74

Selling Content

As a freelance writer, especially if you are doing it full-time, you have to get creative to bring the bacon home.  Article writing can be a good way of supplementing your income.  You can also take on blogging to add a few dollars to the pot of gold.  Whatever you decide to take on, there is one thing that is essential – selling your content.

Assuming that you have material that is original, interesting,  informative, and free of errors, the next step will be to see how you can get money out of it.  I already mentioned PLR packages on my earlier post, a way you can use to market several articles on one topic.  You can search online for writing sites that will pay you for views and clicks on your articles, or you can take on blogging assignments, or sign up with sites that will hire you to complete writing tasks.  Some of these gigs may become long-term gigs, if you are good at it.

Another option is to sell your content on your website or sign up with a site where you can post your content for sale.  You will have to share a percentage of your earnings with the site, but that is part of using their services. 

Promoting yourself in social networking sites, your blog, your web, and placing ads in the newspaper or around the community or colleges, is another way to sell your content.  Send proposals out to prospect clients.  Sell your content to magazines or newspapers.  Local publications is a good way to start,  although these last two venues are full of competition.  This is a characteristic of freelance writing in present times.  The internet has opened a whole new side to freelance writing, and many writers – good and bad – are taking advantage.

If you are going to sell your content, make sure that you approach clients in a professional way and that you take pride in your work, by fulfilling your part of the deal as promised.

Writer’s Wisdom 62

Writers are entrepreneurs

 According to a simple definition of the word, an entrepreneur is a person who is willing to take upon herself or himself a new venture or enterprise and accepts full responsibility for the outcome and is looking to make a profit (from Wikipedia).  Although most of the time we define it in the traditional business sense, this definition can be applied to writers.  Aside from their love of writing, writers take chances, are willing to put the long hours that it takes, and go from rejection to rejection learning and adjusting their venture, until they make it.  Writers also want to make money in the end.  They look for their own clients, present their own projects and work, and even do the legwork in promoting their work.  Most dream of the day that they publish “the book,” and will endure anything for the love of the craft.

When we think of an entrepreneur we hardly think of writers.  The image that comes to mind is of the traditional business man or woman starting  a venture.  But if you are a serious writer you well know that you have the entrepreneurial spirit deep in you.