I was on one of the author boards recently, and - as will happen from time to time - another writer was complaining about the inability to afford some of the "basics" of self-publishing: cover art, editing, and so on. Now, it's no secret that selling books is difficult, and a lot of the essential elements that go into a good book (e.g., a good cover) aren't exactly cheap. However, rather than find a way to scrape together the cash, some authors would rather publish a book with a bad cover, no editing, etc. (To me, that's like an auto manufacturer deciding to only put three wheels on a car because they couldn't afford the fourth.) I'm always disappointed by this type of passivity, because in my opinion it shows an extreme lack of hustle.
Unfortunately, thanks to The Hustler - a famous film starring Paul Newman - terms like "hustle" and "hustler"have gotten a bad rap. Today, when people hear "hustler," they often think of someone shady - a con artist, swindler, grifter, or the like. However, the term is also defined by Dictionary.com as "an enterprising person determined to succeed; go-getter." That's the definition I embrace, and I think having the mindset of a hustler - being enterprising and thinking outside the box - can go a long way towards getting people in general, not just writers, out of a financial funk. With that in mind, here are a couple of non-traditional ways to quickly earn $50 offline.
In my area, there are a ton of mom-and-pop used book stores around. Most of them usually have a bargain bin that will be full of books that they're selling for something like 25 cents - usually no more than 50 cents, max. (Some of the books are often in like-new condition.) I've been known to spend a couple of bucks on these, then go to the nearest Half-Priced Books or such and immediately sell my purchases - usually at least doubling my investment. (Even my kid got in on the action, buying about $5 worth of bargain books and immediately selling them for something like $12.) I'm not saying you could make a full-time living this way, but you can certainly use this method to scrape together cash in a hurry (although you may have to visit more than one bookstore to get $50 or more).
Another way to get some cash in a hurry is with neighborhood garage sales. It's not unusual for people shopping at these events to spend hours going house-to-house in search of bargains, and one thing I've noticed is that they often come unprepared in terms of provisions (ie, nothing to eat, nothing to drink). As an enterprising individual, you can make beaucoup bucks just selling soda, water, and snacks to these shoppers for $1 each out of your trunk - especially in summer. (In neighborhoods with a lot of activity, you might earn $50 in half an hour.) Just make sure you are prepared from the standpoint of being able to make change. As for where to find these garage sales, assuming you don't see signs posted in various neighborhoods when you're out just driving around, you can often find out about them in local/community newspapers or publications.
These are just two simple methods of putting some cash in your pocket in a hurry. Basically, there are all kinds of ways to get out there and legitimately earn money - quite often quickly if you put your mind to it. But you can't be passive about it. You have be willing to hustle: be enterprising, be on the lookout for opportunities, and - quite often - think outside the box.