Melanie Rockett: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Chris Mason: For the last 20 years I have been a house husband raising three kids with special needs. During this time, I received my Bachelors in Psychology and a Master’s in Education. However, I now live on a big rig that goes cross country.
Melanie Rockett: Entrepreneur in a Box: A Guide to the Best Ways to Make Money on the Internet, is the latest book in your In a Box series. I am curious to know what it is about?
Chris Mason: The book was born out of my personal needs which were to make money. I did look for a job but between my age and disability no one would hire me. Due to this I compiled a list of obvious and not so obvious ways to make money online which then became a book. The book has sections on:
- Where to sell clutter online. Covering EBay and the like.
- Putting your skills to work for you. Once again coving writing, graphic design, music, as well as unique things like farming and selling homemade fabric.
- There are also websites for the share economy from renting out your car and your house to being a dog babysitter or being a Rent a Friend everything is covered.
- There is also a large crowdfunding section covering subjects such as business startups to cosmetic surgery, adult entertainment and everything in between.
- There is a section on selling your body. Blood, plasma, sperm, egg and clinical trials.
- There is a section on places to go educate yourself using a massive open online colleges(MOOC). The most famous example is Khan Academy but there are tons of others.
- There is a political section to help people read up on the issues and candidates if there are so inclined, to help get them through the never ending political season here in America. As well as some websites to help readers start or support a petition to bring about change.
- There is even a section on those facing homeless. The section even includes where to get help for a furry friend. I should know I have just been reclassified by the Social Security Administration as “Homeless.”
Melanie Rockett: You started your In a Box book series some time ago when you were tutoring your children and needed information. What inspired you to write a book?
Chris Mason: Due to the fact that all my children went to an online charter school, I had to find ways to save money and found many free resources through the internet. In fact, I still think it is funny when I first asked my daughter’s teachers for resources that could help her when she first entered the world of online schooling, I only received 3 websites. I thought 3 websites from 6 teachers was a sad state of affairs, so Tutor in a Box was born. That was years ago now. My eldest daughter was in sixth grade then, now she is a Junior in college.
My other books were born out of two things that happened at the same time. First, my family had to give up cable to save money but my kids still wanted to see the then popular That’s so Raven. Second, my mother came up with Mason Day to teach my kids that they did not need a lot of money to give someone a nice gift. Mason Day was when a person was assigned a family member and had to make them something, spending only 20 dollars. My thought was “Oh my God”. I had no artistic skills like my daughters’ and could not build things like my son, but I did have impressive research skills. So the “In the Box” series of books was born. All are reference guides to the best free stuff in a particular area. The series currently includes:
- Tutor in a Box – A guide to free educational resources.
- Book Store in a Box – A guide to free print and audio books.
- Arcade in a Box – A guide to free video games.
- Video store in a Box – A guide to free Television and Movies.
- Record Store in a Box– A guide to free music on the internet.
- Production Studio in a Box: The Guide to make DVD, CD Websites and other Media at Low or No Cost
- App Store in a Box: A Guide to the Best Free Applications for Mobile Devices on the Internet
- Entrepreneur in a Box: A Guide to the best Free Websites to Make Money
Melanie Rockett: What has been your most successful In a Box book to date? Tell us a bit about it!
Chris Mason: Success well that depends. From a download standpoint that would have to be my free book Record Store in a Box. With downloads as high as 54 copies in one day at Barnes and Noble. As for my most successful money maker that would be Book Store in a Box. The strange thing is that is not what I expected. I expected ether Tutor in a Box or Entrepreneur in a Box would be more popular go figure. Record Store covers all the best free music online from the obvious places like Pandora and Spotify to the not so obvious like Sound sleeping and Hitlantis. Book Store covers the tons of print books as well as audio books and audio drama found online.
Melanie Rockett: I love finding out about author’s work routines. Do you have a set time you work everyday, or do you work only when inspired? How do you decide whether a resource gets added to your “box”?
Chris Mason: Let’s start with my routine since I live on a truck that goes cross country my writing depends on four things:
- The bumpiness of the road.
- Is there power available for my laptop?
- Is internet service available?
- Am I in the mood?
For your next question how do websites make it into the book. I have a criteria for each book depending on the subject matter and my criteria is set out in the rating system found in each book. But for example, let’s take how a website made it into Tutor in a Box
. I used the following criteria for website inclusion:
- The 30 second rule. Could I figure out the website in 30 seconds? If the answer was no it was discarded if the answer was yes, the website moved on to step B.
- Was the website and its educational content geared towards students? As before a no answer got a website dropped from consideration and a yes moved it forward.
- What was the grade level of the website and what was it teaching? For example, 6th grade California mission history.
- What was the website’s focus? Skill instruction, skill reinforcement, enrichment, or reference.
- Was the website unique?
- Did I enjoy the website or did it help me?
If a website passed the above tests it was included in Tutor in a Box.
I also tried to make sure to include websites for all modalities of learning. For example, in math if reading something is the best way a student learns then Purple Math is for them. If, however, the student is an audio visual learner then Khan Academy is the best fit.
Melanie Rockett: Do you have more books lined up for the In A Box series, or are you planning on something entirely different?
Chris Mason: I have no plans at this time for a new In the Box book. My next book may be one of these three.
- A trucker survival guide
- A Christmas reference guide
- A fractured fairytale.
But I am not sure yet.
Melanie Rockett: Thanks for chatting with us Chris! It is interesting to see how a personal need for information can turn into a book and then into a series of books!
Take a look at this FUNNY VIDEO
.. and then check out Chris Mason’s books