Joanna Penn is an award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers under J.F.Penn and also writes non-fiction for authors. She’s a professional speaker and award-winning entrepreneur. Her site, TheCreativePenn.com is regularly voted one of the Top 10 sites for writers.
Joanna Penn measures her life by what she creates, and has built her author career around the things she values which includes having fun and not making writing just ‘another crappy day job.’
- Joanna began self-publishing and podcasting in 2009. She says you can start when you come to it
- She worked in Accounts Payable and was so miserable she knew she wanted to change her career, so she decided to write a self-help book about leaving the day job (Career Change) and then needed to know what to do with it. She learned to publish and market on the fly, and continues to watch the shifting landscape of self-publishing and remain agile.
- She was laid off and swore she’d never let one company have control of her success (which is why she’s not exclusive to Amazon).
- Thanks to Amazon and the international Kindle, it was easier than ever to publish a book. She didn’t want to wait for the time it would take to get her book picked up by a traditional publisher.
- She waited for the self-publishing digital book revolution to mature to the point where she could see a healthy business future before leaving her day job.
- She recommends reading The Dip by Seth Godin to understand how the path to a successful entrepreneurial career will progress.
- She sacrificed all her free time to building her writing business to build her back list, she and her husband scaled their lives down to what she could support on an indie author’s income.
- She recommends paying off debt, downsize your expenses, talk to your close family about how you will move into this new life together.
- After almost ten years later she is self-employed, employs her husband as part of her business, has 28 books, but not only that, multiple streams of income to give you flexibility when algorithms are radically shifted.
- She is super interested in augmented reality but she holds back until the opportunities appear stable, as well as AI-narrated audio (such as with Amazon’s Polly), but recommends that people be pragmatic and not dive into new markets too early. Just be aware of it and as things happen (e.g. Blockchain is coming, but isn’t actionable yet) be aware of how that shapes.
- The Next Billion Users topics from Google predict another 5B users, many English-speaking, will come into the marketplace as digital consumers.
- She has sold books in 89 countries, markets which are reachable because English is so global.
- Take an inventory of what you have; an eBook and a print book are two different products.
- Number One thing: keep writing.
- Licensing rights to another publisher can be profitable to allow them to make the investment to get your work into a market that would be difficult for you to break into on your own.
- Tony Robbins: “You overestimate what you can achieve in one year and you underestimate what you can achieve in ten years.”
- What do you want to show for your time? Joanna wants to write, read, and travel, then designed her life around those goals.
- Successful Self-Publishing and How to Market a Book are resources that new people need every day. She has an article to answer every question and her VA can send those links out as well so she can keep creating new content.
- Every new person who sends her a question could be “a customer of mine for years.” You don’t know how they come into her eco-system for years.
- Consider multiple streams of income:
- Ebooks (each edition times each retailer you distribute through)
- Print Books
- Large Print Books
- Affiliate links/commission
- Courses, Webinars, and speaking engagements
- Podcasts (via paid advertisers)
- IP Rights (translation, movies, foreign rights)
- With Successful Author Mindset, she has copies of articles on her website and includes affiliate links to products.
- She has collaborated with other authors: it’s a combination of business and pleasure and provides a creative stretch to keep her process fresh. Consider co-writing when you are confident in your author voice. Just recall: there’s a lot of overhead with time and you have to split the money. Recommends BundleRabbit for their payment splitter for short-term projects.
- Her next non-fiction book will be How to Write Non-Fiction.
- Consider IP after you die, have contracts with your collaborators and contractors, and plan for the entire estate you leave behind.
- Decide who you are as a person. Joanna likes helping people and enjoys Non Fiction using the content she’s absorbed from her own reading. Her fiction writing (e.g. Map of Shadows) nurtures her “Shadow side” by exploring graveyards and the darker side of characters. She couldn’t give up either side; she needs them both.
- She won’t promote a company or their products/services unless she uses them herself, thinks they’re awesome, and knows they aren’t predatory. She must know them and use them.
- She writes the books she wants to write to build a body of work she’s proud of.
- If you are leaving your job, for the first couple of years, consider a services model (your time for money): helping other people self-publish, consulting, proofreading, etc. It’s a great gap filler but this is not scalable. Raise your prices over time as your resources become more valuable.
- You can barter: swap what you know to help other people (not even necessarily within the same industry). Think of what you have that you can potentially use. It happens at each level; stick and grow with the people at your level.
- Invest time to create content to attract traffic to grow affiliate and sponsorship income.
- A little bit every day makes a difference. It takes time but it begins to pay off and increases and self-sustains after a certain point (with your continued involvement).
- You’re cultivating a garden, there’s tending to do to maintain, little to get for it at first, and then pay-off comes after consistent investment of time and effort (and money).
- Important questions:
- Do you want to do this for the long-term?
- What do you want to create?
- How do you want your life to look?
- How much are you willing to give up to make that happen?
- Getting into screenwriting to learn more about story structure, dialogue, break up the routine, and challenge herself, and exercise her number one asset: her brain.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. This is meant to be the best job ever. Don’t make yourself another crappy job.
- Google Calendar helps her manage her time and schedule. Appoint time for tasks and show up. Joanna manages her business about an hour or two per day. Creative Time / Admin Time / Learning Time.
Books and Resources Mentioned:
The Dip Seth Godin
Compound Effect Darren Hardy
The Next Billion Users topics from Google
Career Change Joanna Penn
Business for Authors Joanna Penn
The Healthy Writer Joanna Penn & Dr. Euan Lawson
BundleRabbit.com Specifically for their Collaborative Royalty Divvying
Creativepenn.com/watchdog (ALLi WatchDog service)
Non Fiction Website www.TheCreativePenn.com (Join her mailing list for your FREE Successful Author Blueprint)
Non Fiction FB Page www.facebook.com/
Joanna’s Podcast www.TheCreativePenn.com/