I wake to the sound of the rooster crowing outside my window, the Vietnamese city of Bien Hoa already buzzing with activity. My stomach rumbles, and I decide it’s time for breakfast; conveniently enough, my favorite spot in the city is directly below my balcony.
The cafe is small, family owned, and serves my favorite breakfast in the city—a papparoti (coffee bun). The buttery sweetness of the pastry accompanies my usual order of strawberry-tinged green tea, the flavor made all the more pronounced by the fresh morning air.
Vietnam has an endless selection of cuisines to choose from, but I had fallen in love with this simple breakfast within days of arriving in the city. The first few times I visited the cafe, I pantomimed my order to the owners.
This morning, they greet me and ask, “Papparoti?” I nod. The language barrier is no match for a friendly smile.
After breakfast, I’ll pack my computer, don a helmet, and hail one of the xe om (motorcycle taxis) waiting outside my apartment building. I’ll hand him a piece of paper with an address on it, and he will take me to yet another of the coffee shops throughout the city where I’ll spend the day working.
As a writer, I find nothing makes words flow better than a glass of ca phe da—iced coffee with a caffeine content high enough to power a car. I had spent the past month working my way through the various cafes I found in the city and making a list of my favorites.
Day-to-day life in Vietnam is laidback and easy going, and I love the mid-day breaks when everyone stops working and takes a nap to escape the heat. The people are incredibly friendly and everything I need is within easy reach. I passed my time there with delicious food, new friends, and mountain adventures.
Before I left the U.S. I knew only two things. First, I wanted to see the world. Second, I wanted to do it on my own terms: as a writer.
Since then, my writing has allowed me to travel freely. When a fellow writer, Edwin—who was in Ireland at the time—called to say, “Hey Pat. I’m going to Japan next month. Want to meet up?” I was free to go. We purchased a pair of bicycles and set out to explore 1,500 miles of a country that had long fascinated us both.
I had written a book nearly six months before. I published on Amazon and averaged close to $3,000 a month—once peaking at $8,000 a month. At $2.99 per book (or around $2.07 per sale after fees), I was selling nearly 1,500 copies per month. (That was more than enough to live in Vietnam, where a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment cost only $350 per month.)
When I sat down to write my next title, I used all that I had learned about the e-book market to catapult it to a higher level of success. It takes more than just a great book; I hired an editor to clean up the text, a designer to produce a beautiful cover, and I reached out to interested groups for early reviews.
My third full-length book is almost complete. My feet itch for the open road once more. And through this all, I still know two things…the world awaits, and making a comfortable living from e-books is absolutely possible.
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