October 12, 2012…HERE is one smart Cookie. If you do anything…. you need to read about this BUSINESS rock star. She’s a writer and a business owner and she wants to help you…. READ ON PLEASE!!!I Bring you CATE RUSSELL-COLE!!!!!Hi Cate… here we gooooo…. 1. Where do you hide your chocolate? hahahahaha naw… not really.Cate: In a locked box in the dungeon, protected by two mean-spirited dragons that haven’t been fed for three months, and just love human meat!!!!!!!!!!!! 😉She has such a great sense of humor…. learn from her!!!!! LOVE IT!!!
1. I like the idea you have with your business. Tell me about it?
I’ve done many different jobs over the years, including social worker, fill-in receptionist, small business marketing advisor, desktop publisher, typing up resumes and building web sites. Amongst all that, I have always tried to find the time to write, research and teach creativity skills. Those being the areas I love the best! They are what I have decided to focus my attention on. It’s interesting how when you do what you love, you attract success. You don’t have too many days when you don’t want to work and if you do, then you re-assess what’s making you unhappy and change it.
2. How does it work to be an Author and a Business Owner?
All authors should consider themselves business owners, whether it is formal or not. You need to treat what you do as a business in order to promote yourself properly and account for your earnings. You have responsibilities. My courses and books come under the banner of my business for bookkeeping, but my business has to encompass more than that to pay the bills.
Plus being a business owner means I can also expand into other opportunities which come up. For example, I have Publishing House status with Thomas Bowker, the ISBN people. That means I could decide to selectively publish other people’s work through my business (not doing that in the foreseeable future); or I can branch into multi-media; freelance doing book cover design… whatever my heart desires. If I want to dance around the local shopping mall dressed as a giant pen and collect money for NaNoWriMo I can! The only complication is you have to do your homework and understand imprints, differences in company structures between countries, international copyright, have a tax status in multiple countries etc. That can get really scary, dead boring and complicated! Tax is definitely the scare factor for October!
3. Do you have days that you are so busy that you can’t possibly get it all done?
Every day is that day. I try to stick to a schedule and reminder system so nothing gets missed. I will only put out blog posts twice a week due to time limits. Hang the demands of the search engines and the “have-to’s” that are dumped on writer’s heads! There is too much destructive peer pressure out there! (http://wp.me/p1H1Zj-bw) I try and make sure days are scheduled to just write or take time to support other writers and build my networks, but life gets in the way.
The Internet is a great place but as you know, it is heaped with time-wasting temptation! In balance, when you work at home, alone at a desk, being able to interact with other people with the same passion is a huge bonus… out of balance, the Internet connection can be turned off. I am loving ROW80, Google Plus and several bloggers Facebook groups at the moment. There are great ideas out there and people with the biggest hearts. I can no longer live without my e-buddies!
4. October is SCARE MONTH here in the States. What cooool things do you and your friends and family do for October in Australia?
Halloween has only just come out here in the last ten years in a moderate way. It has no real meaning for us, except that someone wants to make money out of selling candy and costumes. We don’t have parties etc. Most parents here don’t like their kids going door to door, as it’s just not safe anymore. I think it is mainly school children who have private parties for something fun to do. Last year, for the first time, four teenage boys turned up at our door, not even dressed in costume, saying, “trick or treat.” They already looked so disappointed and I had to add to that by saying, “I’m sorry, we don’t have anything prepared.” Our upstairs neighbour is from Romania, specifically, the state of Transylvania. We call him the Count. We should have said, “Hey go upstairs, that guy is a vampire!” Poor guys! They would have done better going to KFC…
5. What was the most challenging thing you have butted heads with, trying to run your own Business?
This still is a constant issue: people presuming that I am a hobby blogger and not a professional; and everyone wanting things at one cent sale prices, which you can’t do when you run a business! There are costs. Selling e-books does not even start to cover wages, superannuation, insurances etc. All those things are required by Australian law. I have to take on extra drudge work in the business to be able to pay my business registration, site hosting fees etc. It is not cheap! I work more for the love of it, than the money, but I won’t be taken advantage of.
I got an email late last year from someone who saw I had done free iWork templates and they wanted a company letterhead built into a template. (I made the free templates years ago, in my own time for fun.) So I looked up the company and they were a huge, lucrative financial planning service. When I emailed them and said, here is my Australian business number, corporate rate for services and contract, they never got back to me. obviously they wanted a hobbyist who would be dumb enough to work for peanuts… and they would be lucky if they even got paid! The accounts departments in companies that big have complex systems. No contract means stupid you! You learn to ask a lot of questions and use contracts. I hate doing that. I’d rather trust people, but you can’t.
People need to read the bio and about parts of Facebook pages and blogs and see who and what is really behind the pages they visit. Oddly enough, most people don’t. If someone is a business, respect them and be prepared to pay decent service rates. If they are a hobbyist, still respect them! Even offering a small rate of pay for services is so helpful. I started out doing an online column for $10 a month! I didn’t care about the money. It did wonders for my confidence and self-esteem, all because someone was kind enough to put value on my work and not just take advantage of me. After three months I asked her to stop paying, as I knew if came out of her own pocket. What a great lady!
6. What has been the most rewarding part of being an owner and an Author?
Freedom! I can do anything; say no to anything and create my own future. I have so many ideas! It’s like being let loose as the boss of a chocolate factory. Also, I love being my own boss! I can set my goals and get work done when I need it done. I never have to wait for someone else to get their act together, I don’t have to share the profits or grovel to be allowed to spend money, plus I never have to worry about competing opinions!
7. This is a fun October question….. What is your favorite Harvest food dish?
Terri, it’s Spring here, and I am in a sub-tropical climate so there is no harvest food… but the summer fruit will soon be hitting the shelves. Watermelons, peaches, nectarines, mangoes, apricots, cherries… oh so many wonderful aromas! I love this time of the year. Christmas is prawns, cold meat plates, salads and all these great fruits. Yummy!
8. What is the silliest thing that you have had to do as a business owner?
Welcome to Pandora’s box Terri! I have lost five months of e-book advertising while we “worked out” my International tax status. If you are outside the States, you pay 30% company tax up front with Amazon and Smashwords, unless you have an Employer Identification Number. Note the word: employer! Word around the web was, people were ringing the IRS from the U.K. etc and saying, “yeah sure, I am a business,” getting this number then getting off tax free! So I did the right thing, because I am a business. I wrote to the IRS, got my number and then sent it to Amazon. The IRS is happy I am a business. Amazon rejected my tax status as I wasn’t an individual on the form. Now, you aren’t allowed to be an individual to get that number. I challenged it; they demanded proof I was a business; I sent it and then they still demanded I re-submit the form, in paper, as an individual as I could not be a business for them. Smashwords accepted me as a business straight up, no worries. It is nuts, but it’s saved royalty deaths.
Here is a blog post with even more information on the sheer fun I have had this year with Amazon Kindle. http://cateartios.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/tlbbcamazon/ Last month, they put one of my book titles into a search engine, found where I had promoted it, instantly blocked my book and made me prove it was my work. Now according to any law, they should hold the burden to prove I had plagiarized and broken terms and conditions. Only then, should they be allowed to block me. Oh no, not Amazon. Do you know what they accepted as proof? A really rude email with no hard evidence other than two links. They unblocked my book within 24 hours, then made me go in and put it back up for sale, which was another 24 hours delay. I am hearing the same story from multiple Amazon authors. Amazon needs to change this policy or they are going to get a class action against them, if people lose enough money in sales, band together and go after them.
9. Would you trade working for yourself, for anything? Or is it totally the best thing you ever decided?
I stopped working for myself three years ago for a good cause. Within nine months, it all fell apart and we hated the sight of each other. Never, ever again. Once you’ve had your freedom, you can’t go back. It’s like moving back in with your parents!
10. Tell us about your books… if you didn’t already in the above questions.
I write books and courses to inspire people to use their creativity to their best advantage! I have been teaching memoir / autobiography writing for years and love it. Using a journal is an essential tool for writers to get ideas down! But you need direction in doing that.
I never get tired of hearing people’s stories. There is no such thing as an average or boring person! The quietest people have the most eye-popping stories to tell. The one story that sticks firmly in my mind was in an introductory class where everyone was sharing why they were there. One lady said she wanted to write the story of her father who had been a pilot in the first World War. He had made aerial food drops to a town in Poland. Another lady spoke up and asked, “what town?” It turned out to be the town where she’d lived as a small child. They were surrounded by the Nazi’s and starving. That pilot’s efforts, kept that child and her family alive. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room and those two ladies will be friends for life. That was in a medium sized city on the other side of the world… In teaching memoir, anything can happen!
The other area I love writing about comes from my social work background. I’ve found my blog readers love posts where I take basic psychology, such as how shock, grief, depression or relationship breakdowns work, then apply that to characterisation and plot. I have written one book on that area which deals specifically with conflict. A second one will come out late next year.
Understanding human behaviour also enables me to see the traps that writers often fall into, such as having to write every day (which can exhaust you physically and creatively and be a big mistake for some… but others benefit from it); and letting your self-esteem fall prey to social pressures such as a Klout score. Encouraging people to be themselves and not give into the status quo is a message I often repeat. Johnny Depp does that. He has ignored the norms of his industry and forged his own, clearly successful path. A post I did on Depp has become one of my most successful posts of all time as people can drool and they can relate! (Doing A “Depp” and Avoiding the Juicer http://wp.me/s1H1Zj-depp) I can fall prey to these pressures too easily too. I have just ordered a Johnny Depp coffee mug with “Doing A Depp” to remind me. I had to tell the Ebay seller it wasn’t the kind of euphemism they thought… and somehow, I have to get this past my husband. Wish me luck!
Detailed information about my books is on my blog here: https://cateartios.wordpress.com/products/ and on my web site: http://www.virtual-desk.com.au/trainer.html
11. And a bonus question…
What is your favorite time of the year? Season wise….. just for fun. Mine is spring. Because all of the flowers and trees and grass come back to life.
Mine too. Spring and Autumn, as it’s not too hot or cold and you love being outdoors.
My links for the post if you want to include them. I don’t use a photo Terri as I have had stalkers on the Internet, so I have included my avatar. Do you need a formal bio?
Web Site: http://www.virtual-desk.com.au/artios.html Twitter: @cateartios Write Your Life Story E-Course: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Write-Your-Life-Story/173393852705651 CommuniCATE Blog: http://cateartios.wordpress.com/ Google + https://plus.google.com/112808915215573430690/posts Author Page at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Cate-Russell-Cole/e/B0083MVRJK
Cate— YOU are a gem of information!!! I want to thank you for joining me here on my blog!!! YOU keep up the good work. I know you will rewarded…. very soon… I hope.
Tootles everyone…. thanks for joining on today’s interview!!!