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I recently encountered a book about book-launching that was being promoted for free. As during the past year I have monthly watched my royalty income dwindle away to a distressing and pitiful amount, I decided I had nothing to lose. I wanted the answer to my constant inner cry, “Why do so many other authors have books that sell consistently, and to the extent they make thousands of dollars every month?”

The book is entitled, The Holy Grail Of Book Publishing by Mimi Emmanuel.

She has answered my questions

I knew things weren’t exactly the same, BUT…

Back when I first started publishing books to the Kindle store (2012? 2013?), there were few enough people doing it that all you had to do was a free promotion just through Amazon, without marketing the promo anywhere else, a couple of times a year and you would get a ton of downloads and consistent sales for at least the next couple of months afterwards.

Boy, was that a long sentence! The jist of it is, up until three years ago or so, you didn’t have to spend a lot of money and schedule a bunch of e-mail/social media blasts to promo a book and get sales moving. Now, you do.

I don’t generally take detailed notes from non-fiction e-books. But from this one, I am. I am determined never to have a dud e-book, whether fiction or no, again. It’s not that I NEED the money, but I write because I have a message I believe is important to share, or a story I believe a lot of people could enjoy – even take inspiration from. So I don’t want my creations to sit around and do nothing!

My main take-aways from Mimi’s book: First, when you write a book, don’t launch it until you have given away Advanced Reader Copies so you can get some reviews before setting up promotions. Second, within the first month or so of it being published, set up as many paid and free promotions as you can afford. That way, it will get a lot of momentum from the very beginning, increasing its sales rankings which will, in turn, increase its ongoing sales once the book is back to full price.

Third, I need to put in more money to ongoing promotions than I have been doing. Mimi provides links to three good places for doing ongoing promos, for which I am grateful.

What about my writing projects?

I can’t finish the novel I mentioned several months ago. I just can’t. It didn’t end the way I wanted to, and now I’m wondering if the whole middle needs to be rewritten. Anyway, I’m not touching it again until I figure out exactly how it’s supposed to end, and how it is supposed to arrive at that end.

I have been working on short stories the past couple of weeks. Short short stories – around fifteen pages long, some a little longer – and so I don’t have to rack my brain trying to come up with plot twists and how to “raise the stakes” for the main characters.

However, one of the short shorts wants to be a novel. I am very slowly outlining a possible story. I decided a few weeks ago that I’m not going to write any more novels unless I flesh out all the details and plot twists first, so I don’t feel like throwing the story out the proverbial window when I hit the halfway mark. (This has happened with every other novel I’ve written.)

Soon I’ll be able to price my book Mastering Minimalism to free on Amazon. After I do, number one, it will show up in the sidebar, probably at the top of the other books; and number two, I will set up a promotion for it so that I can drive sales for my Crazy Simple book (the main purpose of the Minimalism book).

So, that’s my writing life right now. Kind of sporadic, flitting around and trying to figure out where to land. Do be sure to download any of my freebies that are in the sidebar, including the “click here for more freebies” link at the bottom.

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People don’t have to work until they are sixty or seventy years old before they can get out of the rat race. Early financial independence – even as early as one’s mid-thirties if they get started by age twenty – is possible with a willingness to work hard, make some sacrifices, and be smart with money.

However, a critical step that anyone seeking to “retire” that early is to get the right perspective on material things. I talk about that in the video that follows, as well as in the text below.

(Please click on the video to get to the YouTube page to share this video with your online networks. TIA!)

It’s hard not to be materialistic when the entire culture seems to be bound up in materialism. But thinking that accruing more things is the answer to happiness or success, is a recipe for debt and poverty.

Ten things you probably don’t need more of

  1. Clothing. You probably have enough pieces for every season to last you for a decade.
  2. Computers. No need to buy a new one until this one quits working.
  3. E-readers. The one you have is likely perfectly sufficient.
  4. Smart phones. You won’t lose anything if you don’t upgrade.
  5. Furniture. If you’re tired of looking at it, change the arrangement or change the appearance by throw pillows, covers, or paint.
  6. Magazines (or magazine subscriptions). Impulse buys, waste of money. If you are trying to stay up-to-date with a particular issue, say, mechanics or finances, there are plenty of blogs on such topics that you can subscribe to for free.
  7. Knick-knacks. Do I really have to explain this one?
  8. Toys. Your kids already have more than what they can play with. (Go ahead; tell them I said it so they won’t get mad at you.)
  9. Linens – bed, bath, and beyond. Thanks to planned obsolescence, fabrics don’t last nearly as long as they used to. However, they do last a lot longer than how some people treat them. Refrain from buying new sets until the current ones actually develop holes or – as in the case of towels – get so threadbare that they hardly absorb water anymore.
  10. Seasonal dishes and accessories. You don’t need to have a set of plates with autumn leaves once September rolls around.

I could go on and on with this list, but you get the picture. People spend a lot of money on things they don’t need.

“Do I have to be a minimalist?”

If you want early financial independence, a minimalist lifestyle is optional, but more helpful than you might think. It is also an ethical choice, since minimalists don’t support sweatshop and child labor nearly as much as mainstream consumers, because they don’t buy nearly as many material goods.

Minimalism does not mean living in a tiny house furnished with only a single chair and table a la Thoreau’s Walden Pond. It simply means giving up the consumer mindset, to the extent that you make no purchases unless you truly need something.

Yes, you are allowed an occasional splurge on luxury items, but make sure they are items that you will enjoy over and over again.

A sure-fire way to stop buying things you don’t need

Pay with cash only.

Yes, I know this means that you will no longer be supporting your favorite online store. But most people who will read this post live in a city or town, and can find what they need locally.

Studies show that people who buy things with cash only, spend less money. Why? It’s a lot more painful to see actual money – the bills and coins – leaving your wallet and pocket, than it is to use an abstract card.

If you have trouble with overspending, making the switch from card to cash is crucial. Even for those who don’t, they will still spend less money if they pay with cash. And no, debit cards don’t count as cash. They are still plastic.

I know, that will be a hard change. But you’re the one reading this post, wanting to know how to reach early financial independence, right?

It’s only stuff

Much of what we acquire in the way of material goods has no real intrinsic value. It looked cool, or pretty, or fashionable, so we snatched it off the store shelf. Other material goods that do have value – such as clothing and dishes – we usually have too much of. We certainly don’t need to buy more of it!

Stuff is stuff. And for many people, it is the sole reason that they are going to have to work until they are at least sixty before they accrue a large enough nest egg to retire on.

Don’t want to do that? Then pick up a copy of my book Hatching The Nest Egg, where I explain the steps to super-early retirement – which my husband and I achieved several years ago.

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What Is Money, REALLY?

If you want to gain early financial independence – in other words, retire well before the age of sixty, without needing multiple millions in a nest egg – one of the keys is to change your perspective about money.

In the video that follows, I talk about this paradigm shift in length. I also talk about it below the video, if you prefer.

(Please click on the video to get to its page on YouTube so that you can share it with your online networks. TIA!)

What people think money is

How do most people perceive money? Many see it as a means of social acceptance. If I make at least this amount, I will be accepted by the circle of people that I want to be a part of. I will be able to buy the material items that make me look good in front of others.

Some people perceive money as a source of power. The more money I have, the more power I can obtain.

Many – perhaps most – people also see money as a kind of security. The more money we have, the more secure we feel that our physical needs will be met, even some of our wants. We won’t have to worry about starving to death or sleeping on the streets.

Some religious people consider money to be evil. This is generally because for so many years, people have twisted the Bible verse to say, “Money is the root of all evil.” That’s not what it says. It says, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” But some religious people persist in believing the misquotation, and so force themselves to live austere, miserable lives as a result.

What money REALLY is

Money is none of those things. Rather, it is a mode of exchange. We have agreed that this particular currency, these special pieces of paper and specific round pieces of metal represent a certain value that we can trade for the things we want and need. That’s all money is.

Money represents your life energy. The money that you earn from your job or business depends on the life energy that you expend.

Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin talked about this concept at length in their book, Your Money Or Your Life. In fact, they instruct their readers to sit down and figure out whether the money that they earn from their jobs really worth the life energy that they are putting out.

Most people’s immediate answer is, “Sure, the hours I put into my job is worth the money I get back.” But when they actually sit down and do some number-crunching, they are surprised at what they find. Once they make a list of all the expenses related to their job – including lunches and dinners out, the commute (time wasted, gas, extra repairs, hiked insurance due to extra mileage), sick days, day care, “decompression time” after coming home from work, paying someone to clean the house and/or maintain the yard, clothing – they realize that they don’t make nearly as much money as they thought they did. Instead of making $200 per day, they may be only making $150. That would be a decrease in salary of $1,000 per month!

Then they realize, “Whoa! If I didn’t have this job, then I wouldn’t have to make as much money as I do!”

At first glance, that might not make sense. And you might argue, “Well, I have to do something to buy groceries!”

I agree! But…do you actually need the job that you’re working right now? What would happen if you found a less stressful job, closer to home, maybe with fewer hours? Then you would not need the extra money related to a long commute, and you would probably have a lot fewer sick days, and you would have more time to take care of your house yourself.

You’ve got to make this paradigm shift if you are serious about achieving early financial independence. Money is a mode of exchange, an exchange of your life energy.

Once you get that revelation, then spend a month or two keeping track of every single penny that comes into and goes out of your life. Write down every single expenditure, and every single bit of income. Most people, when they do that, find that they are wasting a whole lot of their life energy by buying things that they not only don’t need, but don’t really want shortly after buying them. Or, they are items – such as a cup of coffee – that they could save a lot of money on just by getting up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning to make some at home.

Remember: you have to release your life to get money. Get in the habit of asking, “Is this thing I’m about to buy really worth my life energy?” You’ll be surprised at how the answer will become “no” more and more frequently.

To get all the step-by-step details of achieving early financial independence, click here for my book, Hatching The Nest Egg.

Click here to subscribe to my YouTube channel, where you can get regular tips on simple and healthy living.

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The BEST Way To Earn A Passive Income

What is the best way to earn a passive income? Start a blog and become an affiliate marketer? Publish books to the Kindle store? Become a YouTube star? In the video that follows, and the text that follows the video, I explain why none of these things really equates a passive income these days.

That said, after the fact I realized that the income that my husband and I depend on is technically referred to as a “portfolio” income, rather than “passive” income. However, since the phrase “passive income” usually brings up images of people living in huge houses who only work one or two hours a day for a five-figure monthly income, the information I’m about to share holds true. Because the sources that used to be passive income, aren’t so much anymore.

(Please click on the video so that you can get to the YouTube page where you can share it with your online networks. TIA!)

“Passive income” defined

A passive income is an income you receive that is much greater in proportion to the hours you work to receive it. For example, if you work two hours a day – and two hours a day only – on writing novels and marketing, and make more money than you would at an average job ($50K/year), this could be considered “passive” income.

I defined it differently in the video because I was a bad girl and took the literal meaning of “passive” rather than what has become the generally accepted meaning of “passive income.” For that, I apologize.

BUT…the question is, how easy is it to work only fourteen hours a day and make the equivalent of a forty-hour-per-week salary? Let’s look at multi-level marketing first. The company “opportunity videos” imply that you only have to work a few hours per week in order to be making a six-figure annual income within two to five years. But the fact is, the serious money-makers in the industry work a lot more than four to eight hours per week! That’s not to mention the hard work it takes just to get off the ground with MLM, mainly because most people who sign up eventually drop out. While a scant few people make a passive income in MLM, most do not.

How about YouTube? It can be a great source of passive income if you put up the exact right video at the exact right time that just happens to go viral. But this does not happen very often. Because of the competition there is now, people with YouTube channels need to do a lot of work in order to get views and subscribers – and therefore money…especially if you’re looking for a minimum four-figure monthly income.

What about blogging? Used to be, twelve years ago, that you could set up a blog, post two or three times per week, and have enough traffic coming within a year to make money on ads, affiliate products, or your own products. But today, you have to do a lot of marketing to get people to find your blog. You may also have to put a good bit of money into SEO services to help your blog posts show up in the search engine results.

Let’s talk about Kindle. Same thing. Everybody and their brother is trying to make money by publishing e-books to the Kindle store. The people who make a consistent income with their books are usually the people who are consistently marketing…and publishing several new books a year. Once in a while an Indie author gets lucky and writes a great story that makes five figures per month for several months, just because it got off to a great start. But this, like a video going viral on YouTube, is rare.

I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t try to start an online business, if that’s what you really want to do. What I’m saying is that for most people making a full-time income with any of the models I just mentioned, the income is not passive.

REAL passive income

The best passive income is when your money is making money to the extent that you can live – and live well – off of that income that your money brings.

Yes, this requires a nest egg of several hundred thousand to a couple of million dollars. Yes, this generally takes a debt-free individual ten to twenty years to achieve. But in twenty years, would you rather still be stuck at a job you don’t like, with no hope of retiring for another ten or twenty years after that, or would you rather be financially independent? If you are willing to work at a conventional job or at your own business, live beneath your means, and invest wisely, you will have reached a point where your money will make enough money so that you no longer have to work.

You can be PASSIVE and still make an INCOME.

So, even though “the experts” call that a “portfolio income”, I still argue that the term “passive income” also applies. And that it’s a lot more passive than online business or MLM income.

To get all the step-by-step details of achieving early financial independence, click here for my book, Hatching The Nest Egg.

Click here to subscribe to my YouTube channel, where you can get regular tips on simple and healthy living.

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