About Steve Hooley

Steve Hooley is the author of seven short stories published in four anthologies, a Vella serial fiction, and is currently working on the Mad River Magic series – a fantasy adventure series for advanced middle-grade to adults. More details available at: https://stevehooleywriter.com/mad-river-magic/

Reader Friday – Side Hustles for Writers

Marketing Strategy or Writing Distraction

The number of new books published each year has been estimated to be about 4 million (estimate for 2022). In 2010 Google Books calculated that the total number of published books in the world, since the invention of the Gutenberg press, was 129,864,880 books. And that didn’t include self-published books. So, based on the number of new books in 2022, we could safely add another 40 million to our 129,864,880 number.

That’s a lot of books. We’re metaphorically swimming in an ocean of books and authors, and it’s hard to get noticed. So, what do we do to be noticed? How do we keep from drowning in the ocean of obscurity?

The parallel data to the numbers above have to do with the percentage of writers who can support themselves with their writing.

The Guardian estimated that just over 77% of self-published writers make $1000 or less a year.

Another survey revealed that 54% of “traditionally-published” authors (and nearly 80% of self-published authors) earn less than $1,000 a year.

Bottom line – a small minority of us will be able to earn a living publishing books, and will therefore require a partner who is working, retirement funds to survive, or a second job for living expenses.

So, let’s discuss a side hustle for writers – “work performed for income supplementary to one’s primary job.” (Merriam and Webster) And let’s look at ways to address both problems – the need for money, and the need to be discovered.

 What are some of the best jobs for writers to get noticed? What side hustle could complement our marketing efforts? And what hobbies and interests could we turn into a profitable part of our writing-business model for marketing and supplemental income?

I recently resurrected a hobby – pen making – as a way to rev up my marketing and supplement income. Over the years I have collected a selection of lumber that is historical – white oak that was growing in 1776, black walnut that dates back to 1815, and white pine that had originally been used in 1870 for the construction of our local county courthouse. I use that lumber to hand craft “legacy pens” as part of my Legacy Words and Wood business model. I get a much better response to newsletter sign-up requests when readers learn that there will be a drawing for one of the pens. The model also allows for customers to provide their own “legacy wood” for a custom-made legacy pen. You can see my pens at – https://stevehooleywriter.com/legacy-pens/ – Enough advertising.

Time for Questions and Discussion:

  • What interests/hobbies do you actively engage in that could be called upon to benefit your marketing? Tell us about it.
  • What hobbies have you been interested in but not yet had time to pursue? Could they be used as a side hustle? Explain.
  • What other ideas for a side hustle can you think of? Help with suggestions for those who haven’t explored this idea.

Reader Friday – Influence and Reciprocation

How to win friends and influence people.

How to make friends and sell your books.

I recently heard of Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion, from a David Gaughran blog post. He discussed the book in the context of newsletters and convincing readers to take action. The book looks at the six facets of influence obtained from clinical research. The first is “reciprocation” – that nature and nurture character trait that makes us want to return the favor when someone does something for us or gives us something, including exceptional service.

Have you ever experienced service so exceptional that you wanted to give back something of value, as a way of saying “Thank you?” My wife and I experienced that Monday. We were sitting in our local branch of a large Ohio bank. Another bank we had used for decades had “merged” with yet a third bank, telling us that nothing would change, then began trickling out the truth. When we learned that basically we had to start all over with new accounts, new account numbers, and new checks, we decided it was time to move.

Our appointment with Jordan, our bank representative, was at 1:00. She was behind, still answering questions for a couple she was helping. The door was open, and from where we sat I could hear that a good discussion was taking place. And that’s a good thing. From my experience in a service profession, I’ve learned that people want you to give them your time and attention. They don’t want you looking at your watch, trying to hurry them out the door.

We waited patiently, knowing that Jordan would take time to answer our questions when our turn came. She ushered us into her office about ten minutes late, and did just that. Thorough, patient, going the extra mile. She must have read How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.

When we finished, I realized that I wanted to give her a hand-crafted pen I had in my pocket and my writer’s card. She drooled politely over the pen, and listened patiently as I explained how she could go to my website and sign up for my newsletter, where she would find monthly opportunities to win other “legacy pens.”

We shook hands, then parted. But standing outside the door, and practically blocking our exit, stood an unhappy customer whom we had kept waiting ten minutes for her appointment. The unhappy one had apparently never read Dale Carnegie’s book and had the fiercest glare I had seen for a while, except in the movies. I said, “I’m sorry.” But the dragon kept her anger focused on Jordan.

My wife and I slipped out of the danger zone and determined that we would return for our next appointment with brownies and another pen.

  • Have you recently experienced service so excellent that you wanted to give back? Please tell us about it.
  • Or, have you met a dragon recently whose fiery breath you narrowly escaped? Change the name and the pronouns and tell us how you escaped.

And, Jordan, if you’re reading this, hang in there. You’re appreciated! And the next time the dragon comes visiting, hold out a plate (and a fire extinguisher) and say, “Would you like a brownie?”




Check out Code Maker and learn what gift he has for you.

The Tetra-Chrome Spiral-Skyway is currently available on Amazon for $0.99.


Reader Friday: St. Patrick’s Day Books and Traditions


Also called other names, including Feast of Saint Patrick, Saint Patrick’s Day has been celebrated since 1631. Known for its parades, green shamrocks, wearing of green, feasting, and drinking Irish beer or whiskey, St. Patrick’s Day was originally established to honor Saint Patrick who had lived 12 centuries earlier. It was intended as a day for Christians to have a break from Lent and its abstinence. The church did admit in the 1720s that it “got kind of out of control.”

So today, let’s talk about books, traditions, and experiences of St. Patrick’s Day.

Google listed about 30 books that included St. Patrick’s Day.

  1. What books have you written or read that included St. Patrick’s Day?
  2. What traditions do you, your family, or friends observe on St. Patrick’s Day?
  3. What interesting events have you experienced on St. Patrick’s Day?

 May the luck of the Irish enfold you!




If the forces that seek to divide us were to put you in the Green Group, what would your ethnicity be?

United We Stand, Dude! is currently available on Amazon for $0.99.


Reader Friday: Weapon of Choice

There have been many excellent articles presented here at TKZ on the topic of self-defense, and particularly the use of guns. Here are links to two of John’s articles:



Today, however, we are talking about offensive weapons, weapons of battle.

Imagine that you are part of a large colony of writers who have been held captive in a medieval castle. Your group has escaped the castle in the middle of the night and is on the run. You know where the enemy army is encamped, and you have decided to attack preemptively. Better to take them by surprise than to be attacked while you are on the run, and they are gaining on you. Your group is large, and with the element of surprise, you can win. You hope.

So, it is time to choose your weapon. Since this scenario is mixed genre fiction, your choice of weapons is large – pick any weapon, or even invent one. You must, however, be able to carry it by yourself, along with ammunition (if needed) and a power source (if you’re playing with sci-fi).

Now, please tell us which weapon you have chosen, and why. How do you intend to use it? A paragraph or two of you doing battle with the enemy’s Goliath would be good. We’ll watch from a safe distance and cheer you on to victory.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Beware he who would hijack your life code to achieve immortality.

Perfect Strand, #6 in the Mad River Magic series, is currently available at Amazon for $0.99.

Reader Friday – Castle Chronicles #3

To Do, or Not To Do

Two weeks ago, we began these chronicles with standing before the New World Ruler and reading the opening to one of our stories. We successfully gained admission to the 1001 Authorial Knights. Whew! We survived.

Then, last week, we discovered we could take a prolonged research vacation, and we picked our location(s). Some of us chose a globe-trotting “Around the World in 180 Days.”

Now, we’re back in the castle – our writer’s prison – cold, spartan rooms on the upper level of the castle. At least we have a good view, but it’s a bit cold with openings and no windows.

And now, the intrigue begins. (FPP/first doorway). Rumors and rumblings are beginning about rebellion/escape/revolt – scary things that make you shudder.

Sir Judas is standing off in the corner, jingling some coins in his pocket. Sir Robin and Lady Marian are defying the rules and are together, whispering. Walking past Robin’s open door, you notice he is disassembling his bed and beginning to make a longbow.

And, Willy Shakestick has just been hauled in from England. He’s standing at his window, holding a skull, and muttering over and over, “To see or not to see.”

You know you will be forced to take sides. You groan. Why can’t everybody just get along? You’ve struggled through sleepless nights trying to decide.

So, what will it be?

  • Will you join the revolution?
  • Will you lead or follow?
  • Or will you just write about it?

Reader Friday – Writers’ Research Vacations

In last week’s post we read our story openings before the New World Ruler, survived his chopping block, and became part of the 1001 Authorial Knights. Now, as we settle into our spartan quarters on the upper floors of the King’s castle, we discover a parchment with a list of rules we must obey.

They are really fairly simple: Produce at least one book every 1001 days (approximately 2 years and 9 months). And don’t cause any trouble.

But, the surprise: Below the rules, is a perk. Out of every 1001 days, we may take a research vacation anywhere in the world. The only requirements: The maximum length of the vacation is six months. We must be accompanied by one of the King’s swordsmen. And we must take notes and report back to the King when we return, telling him what his subjects are doing and discussing, i.e., Is anyone even thinking about rebellion?

So, you reach for the stack of maps and begin considering the possibilities.

Please tell us:

  • Where will you go?
  • Why did you pick that country or region?
  • And what do you hope to learn while you are there?
  • Oh, and one more thing. Do you have any secret plans for while you are there? Do tell.

Reader Friday – 1001 Authorial Nights

King Solomon had 1000 wives and concubines. King Shahrayar had his 1001 Arabian nights. King Badassi the Barbarian is sparing 1001 authors.

Will you survive the cut?

Badassi the Barbarian

You stand outside the throne room, your best book clutched tightly in your sweaty hands, your mouth as dry as the desert, your heart pounding like a jackhammer.

Behind you lies a trail of destruction throughout the motherland, the mark of the New World Ruler, King Badassi. All of civilization has been leveled, the previous government incinerated, the thinkers and professors led to the chopping block, and the inventors herded like cattle to the Ruler’s pens where they will be put to his work.

Now, Badassi is starting on the writers. The nonfiction authors and journalists have disappeared. The writers of fiction are next. But…whispers have spread the rumor that 1001 writers will be spared…if they can hold the New World Ruler’s interest for one minute.

You are next to enter the throne room and face your judgement. You must entertain and captivate to avoid the thumbs-down and the escort to the door with the giant and his bloody executioner’s axe. You must muster the saliva and begin a tale so enticing it cannot be interrupted…for just one minute.

What will you say?

Use the first line or sentence or paragraph from one of your books, your favorite book, or create a new one.

 We’re rooting for you, holding our breath. We want to see you on the other side in the ranks of the 1001 authors – the 1001 Authorial Knights. You can do this!

Reader Friday – Inkblots


In 1921 Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach developed the Rorschach Ink Blot Test to evaluate subjects’ psychological functioning. It is often used to explore personality characteristics and emotional functioning. The original test had 10 ink blots. The picture above is inkblot #10.

This past Monday, Sue used ring tones to define characters. Tuesday, Kris discussed sound tracks and their correlation with tone and emotion. Let’s continue our inspection of our characters with the Rorschach test.

The original test used 10 inkblots. Today we’ll use one. Here is the assignment:

  1. Pick the MC from one of your books or a favorite book.
  2. Have your MC inspect the inkblot above and tell us what he or she sees.
  3. Explain what that reveals about the personality of your MC.

 Please be as wildly creative as you wish. And realize this is an opportunity to plug your character and your book.

Reader Friday – Denominal Verbs

Did you ever look around at all the “things” which surrounded us and try to find one where the name (a noun) has not been turned into a verb?

The English language is blessed with a multitude of verbs. Constance Hale, in her book VEX, HEX, SMASH, SMOOCH, Let Verbs Power Your Writing (p.11), says:

“The verb in English enjoys a special primacy. Linguists tell us that verbs make up one of our four major word classes, along with nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. What’s cool about these ‘content’ words…is that their ranks keep growing, making the language ever richer. We get more and more verbs every year!”

She estimates (book published in 2012) that we have 45,000 to 85,000 verbs in the English language.

In her 1/24/23 TKZ post, Kris discussed finding the right “laser beam words.” She mentioned “anthimeria” – subbing one word for another. Another name for a noun turned into a verb is a “denominal verb.”

So, our assignment for today:

  1. Find a noun that has not been turned into a verb. What is it?
  2. Create a denominal verb (not necessarily from #1) and nominate it to be inducted into the English language.

Reader Friday – What’s on your Christmas list?

It’s not too late. You have nine days to get your request in. Well, actually eight, if you want Santa to deliver it. And that’s if you’ve been nice.

So, what’s on your Reader/Writer Christmas list? And, as I so often do (remember, I write fantasy), we won’t place any limits on the price or performance or actual reality of your requested gift. In fact, let’s see how creative you can get. We write fiction, right?

The only requirement is that the gift request relates to your reading or writing. Okay, now tell us about your dream gift. And don’t go on too long, or Blitzen will push the time-limit buzzer. She wants to get that gift made and packaged.

 Oh, I almost forgot: “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good holiday break!”