2011 Round-Up. Achievements, Reflections And What Could Be Improved

I’m one of those people who thrives on goal-setting and measurement. I’m always setting new goals and although I often change direction, I tend to achieve more than if I set none at all.

It is important to celebrate achievements so this is my annual round-up. It’s not meant to be horn-tooting, more of a record of the year.

I hope you have learned a lot from The Creative Penn in 2011 and I look forward to serving you further in 2012. I’d also love to know if you achieved your goals this year before we all set new ones in the coming days.

Fiction Writing

Pentecost, my first novel, was published in Feb 2011 and has now sold 16,034 copies.

Prophecy, the 2nd in the ARKANE series was published yesterday on the Kindle. Print, Nook & other versions to come in Jan but I still got it out in 2011! I won’t be officially launching it until January 20th but it is available on the Kindle store if you’d like to purchase!

I’m pretty excited about the future of fiction with digital publishing. I’ll be exploring more in this arena in 2012 and onwards. I have so many creative ideas I want to explore.

I have also started a blog for my fiction fans, JoannaPenn.com where I will be adding information about my research and more.

The Creative Penn

This blog has now reached it’s 3rd birthday (hoorah!) It has won the Top 10 Blogs for Writers for the 2nd year running (as one of the Top 10 after 2100 nominations and comments). I’m really pleased with that so thank you if you nominated me.

In terms of growth and online platform, I shall record figures here for posterity as it’s good to revisit these regularly and this has become my annual checkup.

There are currently 3162 subscribers to this blog on Feedburner, 6585 subscribers to the newsletter, 23,279 followers on Twitter, 2418 on Facebook/TheCreativePenn and 1034 on Google+. Considering I’ve only been on Google+ for a few weeks, I’m interested to see how fast that is growing and the engagement over there. I may well give up Facebook in 2012! (but never Twitter!)

The Creative Penn podcast has now reached 113 episodes. There have been 41,358 downloads, at around 3400 per month in the last few months. The top listening countries are US (53%), China (12%), UK (10%) and Australia (7.4%).

In light of all this, I may be looking for some sponsorship for the podcast in 2012! If you’re interested, please do email me direct.

The most popular podcast has been On Changing Your Life, Writing and Marketing a Book which just happens to be an interview with me! You can download the backlist here – there’s over 60 hours of free information on writing, publishing and book marketing with more every week.

My YouTube channel The Creative Penn has 395 subscribers and has had 63,997 views of 122 videos. The top videos have been Tips for Publishing on the Kindle (3690 views) followed by Pentecost Book Trailer (2544 views). The top countries are US, UK, Australia and Canada. Demographics: 51.4% male, 48.6% female. Over 50% in the 45-54 age bracket. Although this isn’t spectacular, I will continue to invest in video as I think it is a growing market and the more I do, the more I enjoy it!

Transition to full-time author-entrepreneur

This wasn’t even something I thought would happen this year but a combination of circumstances have made it so.

I left my consulting job of 13 years for the more precarious, but rewarding, life of an author-entrepreneur. I have also moved hemispheres from Brisbane, Australia to London, England.

For the full story, read “I am creative, I am an author. From affirmation to reality.”

For this transition, I primarily thank Amazon Kindle for the KDP publishing platform, and WordPress for enabling this blog as well as Twitter for my network. Together, those services have changed my life!

If you’d like to invest further in your education, I now have the following products available for sale, with a focus on mini-modules, not full-blown courses:

I shall be expanding this digital product range in 2012 and rewriting the Author 2.0 Blueprint and modules in order to update everything to this ever-changing market.

How did I do against my goals for 2011?

Here are my New Year’s resolutions from Jan 2011.

  • Publish Pentecost – achieved.
  • Go to ThrillerFest in New York in July & pitch a publisher. I cancelled this trip as we moved from Australia to London in May which changed the budget somewhat. I would still love to go to ThrillerFest and the flight would be cheaper from London. I’m not so bothered about pitching to an agent now though. I am very happy being indie at the moment. I do have a goal of 50,000 book sales and then I may decide to approach an agent.
  • Finish Prophecy – achieved.
  • Launch a new blog for mystery & thriller lovers. I did launch MysteryThriller.tv but to be honest, I have now stopped doing reviews on video and am just reviewing books I like on Amazon & Goodreads. I don’t have the bandwidth for more reviews in general. The aim was to get some advertising revenue from the blog but it wasn’t justifying itself in terms of time and effort. I can make more income from writing fiction and this blog, so I won’t be continuing with that. So yes, I achieved it, but it was a misplaced goal. You can follow my reviews on Goodreads here.
  • Enjoy 1 day unplugged a month. Hmm, I don’t think I achieved this … I continue to be a driven person who isn’t very good at stopping. My husband says I am like a Ferrari with no fuel gauge. I only stop when it all falls apart. This is my natural rhythm. I have tried meditation again this year but it stops after a few days. I continue to journal a lot though, which is a kind of meditation. I definitely do unplug, but not regularly enough.
  • Learn more about grammar, language and the craft of words. I have specifically read prize-winning literature and poetry in order to glean more about language. I continue to listen to podcasts and do training as well as read books and of course, interview people. I also learn A LOT from having my own work edited. If you read Pentecost and then Prophecy, I hope you can see improvements in my writing. So, achieved.
  • Continue to expand The Creative Penn. I’ve definitely achieved this but it’s not a stretch goal. It’s more of a maintenance activity now. I LOVE this blog, it brings me so much enjoyment to be useful to you and to share the journey. So please do keep commenting and keep emailing me with your questions.

Tomorrow I will be sharing my goals for 2012.

How did you do with your goals for 2011? Please do share your achievements and how it went. Let’s keep each other honest!

[Images: istockphoto or my own]

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  1. linda c. thomas says

    You are truly a light on the pathway to publishing. I appreciate you sharing your insight and wisdom.



  2. says

    From a Goals perspective, not great. I thought I’d be able to get a first draft of My Dream Novel done but I keep having trouble outlining. I even figured I’d take a punt at NaNoWriMo only to have my gut tell me that what I was doing Wasn’t Working.

    That said, though, I think I’ve learned a lot. I’ve tried a couple of different methods of outlining, one of which seems to be working, and I’m getting better with the Just Show Up Every Day part of writing. I’m currently turning an outline I did for practice into something that looks as though it’s going to be a novella, and I’ve had the idea of serialising it once I’ve edited it. No charge, though; it’s fan fiction.

    So in the coming year I’ll go back to the outline of My Dream Novel once the Practice Novella is out of the way.

    Upon checking my web log archive count just now, I managed to average a post a week in 2011, but the overall spread has been pretty sporadic. Blogging regularly is one of the habits I want to develop in 2012.

  3. says

    Well done on achieving your goals but also being realistic about those achievements. And yes, your writing did improve from Pentecost to Prophecy!

    For myself, well, my goal this time last year was to at least have a plan in place to move into runnning my own business full-time. I’d just gone part-time (dropping one day a week at the day job) and dropped another in May, resigned in November and left (officially TODAY! in reality on 12 December as I had holiday and flexi to come). So: I’ve done that one!

    December has been my best month yet for income, and my plan for next year is to:
    – Make enough money to support myself for the next year (I’m living on savings this year so I keep a buffer)
    – Have more time for me, books, partner and friends!

    Good luck everyone in achieving your aims for 2012. If you’d told me 5, or even 2 years ago that I’d be in this position now, I would not have believed you – so anything is possible!

  4. says

    I wish you all the best in 2012 :) I know for sure that I have learned a lot from you and your blog and I would definitely be less sure about what my goals really are if it wasn’t for your blog. It definitely help me realize there are many venues a writer can pursue (especially a writer who is not a US citizen – which used to be my main excuse for not going forward with my goals).
    So thank you, because if I’m to be honest: any success I will achieve in 2012 will be at least partly thanks to you.

  5. says

    Good luck Jo and all your readers, friends and acquaintances for 2012.

    I’m basically going to do the same as I did in 2011 (which includes reading you blog regularly :)) but more. So in 2011 I self published one book; in 2012 I intend to self publish 3 books.

    Also I will try and be a bit more focussed in my blogging. In 2011 I jumped around a bit, sometimes I ran dry, others I was a bit frantic. In 2012 I am going to concentrate on mindmapping for writers the whole year. I’ll write a whole series on how to mind map, and how useful it is to writers. Later in the year I will display writing mindmaps sent in by readers so that everyone can share in them.

    Happy and prosperous New Year.

  6. Louise Behiel says

    thankis for sharing your journey and results. Glad you could ditch the day job. great blog which I’m enjoying a lot.

  7. says

    I’ll be looking for the silver bullet as I get into your site and blog. Your 16,000 copies sold in less than a year is amazing. I have six projects published and in the last six years haven’t sold than many totaled. Hmmm. I wish you continued success.


    • says

      Hi Bill, I hope you enjoy digging. I don’t believe there is a silver bullet. I’ve been doing this site for 3 years and learning all the time. I spent the year before that doing everything wrong in traditional marketing – so I know how you feel. It takes time to assimilate it all and put it into practice, but it is rewarding – the journey and the outcome. All the best as you find your way.

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