Coming Soon, Book Number Twenty

Coming Soon, Book Number Twenty

I launched my professional writing career in 1990 with the sale of a feature article to Hemmings Motor News. Over the course of the next fifteen years I wrote a stream of feature articles for an array of publications, had a part time job as associate editor with Cars & Parts, and wrote a few books. A couple of the books garnered international accolades and awards. And two of them landed me an interview with Jay Leno in his famous garage.
Still, I had a full time job that supported the writing habit. Then in 2015 my dearest friend and I launched Jim Hinckley’s America as a multifaceted travel network that was built on books I had written and would write.
I have no complaints. I greatly enjoy writing. But what I enjoy most are the friendships that are made through writing, and the doors for amazing adventures that writing have opened. So, from that perspective I am a very successful author.
Well, the contract for book number 20 has been finalized. That as well as the negotiation for that contract inspired a great deal of reflection on the changes that are transforming the publishing industry, the challenges associated with making a living from the written word, and the misconceptions that people have about writing.
First, it has never been easy to earn a living as a writer. Very, very few authors earn their entire living from the writing of books. That was the case in 1890, 1940, 1960 and today. Even though word processors, research using the internet and other modern wonders have made the job easier, the money earned from writing has, in general decreased. Case in point, last year in search of work I contacted a major publication that had published some of my work in the 1990s. The amount paid for a feature article is now $50 to $100 less than it was twenty-five years ago.
And yet, if the author is willing to take side jobs, it is easier than ever to supplement income. Content is king. Websites and marketing companies that build websites realize the value of well written blogs to boost SEO as well as traffic. So, I write blog posts for pest control companies, marijuana dispensaries, chambers of commerce, RV sales and service companies, and others. It pays the bills. For each blog post I am paid almost exactly what I was paid for feature articles when I was writing for a regional newspaper – in the 1990s.
As the writing is but one component in the Jim Hinckley’s network, I am fortunate to be able to solicit for advertisers. And I am fortunate to have fans that will trade support of our crowdfunding initiative for exclusive original content.
If you would like to read more about becoming a published author, the challenges associated with juggling projects to provide an income flow, or updates on the current project, please consider becoming a supporter of our crowdfunding initiative on the Patreon platform.
The Wild Ride

The Wild Ride

The battered Winton that was used in an ill-fated attempt to drive across the country in 1901. Photo Detroit Public Library

“Covering the North American continent from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic Ocean in an automobile has been attempted by Alexander Winton, president of the Winton Motor Carriage Company, of Cleveland. That the expedition failed is no fault of the machine Mr. Winton used, nor was it due to absence of grit or determination on the part of the operator. Neither was the failure dur to roads. The utter absence of roads was the direct and only cause.” Scientific American, August 3, 1901.

I have long had an obsession with the years between 1890 and 1930, an era of dramatic change and societal evolution. In recent weeks it has been my distinct pleasure to share the history of this exciting and fascinating period in time through feature articles, community education programs developed for Mohave Community College, Zoom based presentations and the Jim Hinckley’s America social media network. Quite often I give reign to the imagination as I consider what it must have been like to live in this era. How did people adapt to such a rapid transition? William “Buffalo Bill” Cody went from being an acclaimed eleven year old “Indian fighter” to buffalo hunter, Medal of Honor winning combatant during Civil War, and international celebrity with his wild west shows. He also purchased a Michigan from the Kalamazoo automobile manufacturer and served on the board for the National Old Trails Road Association.

Ezra Meeker traveled the Oregon Trail with an ox cart. He also toured the country in a National automobile, flew across the country in an airplane and helped build the first service station along the National Old Trails Road in the Cajon Pass of California. Henry Starr was a frontier era outlaw turned movie star. He began robbing banks and eluding posses on horseback, and ended his prolific career by attempting an escape by automobile. Wyatt Earp ended his days hanging around movie sets in Los Angeles and befriending up and coming movie stars.

In part people were able to adapt as the transition only appears dramatic when viewed in the context of centuries. They had time to contemplate, to give thought to the developments that were transforming every aspect of life. From the launching of the first automobile manufacturing company to a transcontinental drive was a period of almost ten years. in 1916 there was still a market for horse drawn wagons and carriages, albeit a shrinking one, and so Studebaker was producing these as they had since the 1860s as well as automobiles. Even in the modern era, another period of historic and dramatic transition, we had time to learn to adapt. The payphone was replaced by cell phone over a period of years. I started writing in 1990 on a 1948 Underwood typewriter, began using a word processor program in 2000, but did not need to fully abandon the typewriter until a few years later.

In a nut shell a primary reason the year 2020 has caused such consternation is that there was no time to adapt to a dramatic transition that has forever altered every aspect of life. It is the uncertainty that has made everyone as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. On the personal level in less than two weeks 2020 went from the breakout year for Jim Hinckley’s America travel network to a near complete collapse. An extensive schedule of international and domestic speaking engagements was cancelled. Work with thirty two tour companies was canceled. Advertising sponsors closed. The community education programs I teach at a community college were canceled. Two business associates died of COVID 19 induced illness.

Everything from education and business to the economy, politics and even the entire foundation of international relationships has forever been altered. We are in for a very wild ride in the months to come. In generations to come people will look back on 2020 much as we view the era between 1890 and 1930. They will wonder how we survived and how we adapted. They will ask why the Untied States abandoned its position as a world leader and play armchair quarterback as they mediate on the ramifications. They will also find inspiration in how we met the challenge, how we adapted, and how some found opportunity in the crisis.

Here at Jim Hinckley’s America it has been the best of times and the worst of times. I have learned a bit about how to use Zoom, how to develop and harness the power of live stream programs and had the opportunity to develop some cooperative partnerships. I have lost associates and watched friends loose their businesses. So what can you expect from Jim Hinckley’s America in the months to come?

  • A regular schedule for On The Road With Jim programs as I share the best of the Arizona outback
  • Our critically acclaimed presentations on the Zoom platform
  • With the acquisition of new equipment, improvements to the live stream Coffee With Jim program
  • Expansion of our advertising sponsor packages so we can offer something for every budget (currently starting as low as $6.25 per week)
  • Further development of community education programs on the economics of tourism, development of heritage tourism, and building cooperative partnerships to foster development of tourism
  • Additional work with the developers of the Route 66 Navigation app to ensure this continues to be the number one aide for Route 66 travelers
  • New series as exclusive content on our Patreon based crowdfunding website

Also, we are adding trivia contests to the Sunday morning Coffee With Jim program. And in limited partnership with MyMarketing Designs, I am writing blog posts for their clients. I am also negotiating to have the Five Minutes With Jim audio podcast syndicated as a radio program. And now that the warehouse is open, I can again begin selling autographed copies of my latest book, Murder and Mayhem on The Main Street of America: Tales From Bloody 66

Interesting times. Challenging times. Tragic times. Times ripe with opportunity. Unnerving times. Exciting times. Confusing times. Historic times. The wild ride continues.