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Nathan Van Coops was hustling before hustling was cool. He is author of the best-selling In Times Like These time travel adventure and 2017's Faster Than Falling. He fixes planes and is the man behind St. Petersburg's most popular baseball cap. He is on a first name basis with every taco purveyor in town. And just in case you thought he wasn't a Renaissance Man - on weekends you're likely to see him riding to softball practice on his antique motorcycle or shopping for baby clothes with his wife in a vintage VW Bug.

Years in Tampa Bay

Hustle (job)

Author/Publisher/Entrepreneur—Owner of Skylighter Press.

What do you do?  

I write and publish science fiction novels with characters based in St. Pete Florida, plus other sci-fi adventures. I also have a line of St. Pete Hats and have recently begun a Facebook Live based web series interviewing successful authors and other book creatives. I also own a business that administers tests to people that want to be aircraft mechanics on behalf of the FAA. And I also maintain 3 airplanes and offer occasional flight instruction. It’s a busy life!

Why do you do it?

I never knew I would eventually get paid to do exactly what I wanted to be doing anyway, but that was my goal. It feels great to be rewarded for your passion. I never chased money with my career choices, but searched for jobs that had a good lifestyle instead. By putting effort into projects I’m really passionate about, like my novels, “working” never feels like work. I have to stop myself from working too much some days just because I love what I do so much. I’m also in a business that provides lots of positive affirmation like reviews from readers who let you know that they appreciate what you do and want you to continue. That really helps.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

I love working for myself. When the opportunity presented itself and I had the option to quit a day job, I was tentative at first. But once the first year went by and I was still afloat, I really gained confidence. I love knowing that my efforts go directly to my own businesses and not someone else’s bottom line.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

A big misconception about independent publishing is that it’s still vanity publishing. The reality is that since 2011 and the upheaval created by Amazon and the advent of eReaders, the way people consume content has changed. Even print books are predominantly purchased online. Every business can be a global business now and if you make your product quality indistinguishable from traditional vendors, you can make a great living. The key is offering the best quality product you can manage. Focus on your customers and they’ll return the attention.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

Finding all the time. Each new creative idea takes time and the more great ideas you come up with, the less time each one gets. But it’s a great problem to have. I love connecting with people and building personal relationships. That can be challenging as your business grows, but I always want to keep that focus and never forget to help those who are still struggling to make it. I’ve been given a lot of wonderful opportunities over the years so I want to always keep that in mind and help others build their own perfect hustle.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

Don’t put your success in anyone else’s hands. By treating your ideas as a business from day one, you take the reins and determine how much effort, time, or money you are willing to commit to it. It’s great to accept help when needed and delegate tasks that others can help you with, but always remember that no one will ever love your ideas as much as you do. Keep investing in yourself and the results will show.

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