Want To Spend More Time On Your Writing And Tired Of Doing It All? A Virtual Assistant Can Help

Indie authors often have an edge of control freakery … well, I do! I like being in control and I enjoy pretty much all aspects of being an author entrepreneur.

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But I hit a wall about 18 months ago, and I definitely needed some help, so I started looking for a virtual assistant to help me.

I had a few varied experiences and learned some lessons, and then Alexandra Amor reached out to me with some brilliant suggestions for how she could help.

Alexandra is a children’s author, but she is also a fantastic virtual assistant for me and a number of other authors. I trust her to help me with key tasks in my author business, and she even suggests things that I may not have thought of.

Alexandra Amor

Alexandra Amor

Today, Alexandra explains how a VA can help authors.

Joanna has previously talked about the advantages for authors of having a Virtual Assistant (VA), most recently in her podcast episode with Chris Ducker. I’ve been Joanna’s VA for almost a year, so I asked her if I could chime in and address some common concerns I hear from authors about working with a VA.

For those who aren’t aware, VAs are independent contractors, like editors and graphic designers, who provide support from their home offices using online tools.

The rise of the internet in the 1990s made this type of career possible, and it has only become easier in the ensuing decades for VAs to share information and support their clients remotely. VAs sometimes specialize in working with a certain niche of clients (e.g., Life Coaches or Real Estate Agents) but many are generally skilled and can work with almost any type of business. VAs are always responsible for the infrastructure they use to do their work (i.e., computer, basic software programs like Word and Excel, internet connection etc.) and they almost always work for more than one client at a time, just as editors and graphic designers do.

You may not have reached the tipping point yet where you feel you need some virtual support. But I certainly hope that one day your books will be so successful that you will! Whether your need is current, or if you’re envisioning what your business will look like when you’re a wildly successful author, let’s jump in and see if I can alleviate some of your concerns and questions about hiring this type of support.

Author Concern #1: I can’t afford a VA

Joanna often says that she prefers the term ‘indie author’ as opposed to ‘self-published author’ because authors don’t actually work in isolation. It’s a team effort to get your books published, involving cover designers, editors and more. Working with a VA is a perfect example of this. At some point in your author business, it’s not going to be possible, or advantageous, for you to do absolutely everything yourself. But unlike hiring a full-time, or part-time, employee, you can hire a VA for very specific tasks, within a specific budget that you set. A VA will work as few or as many hours as you need her to. It’s an economical solution for many solopreneurs, including authors.

Before you start looking for a VA, I recommend you have a clear idea about what your budget is. You will find it easier to set your budget if you know what it is you want your VA to do for you. (Below I cover how to figure both these things out.)

While we’re talking about your budget, let’s talk about rates for virtual help. (Keep in mind that you always get what you pay for.) You’ll pay from US$10 to $15/hour for general administrative or transcription help, for someone who is probably based in India or the Philippines. If you want someone experienced and technologically skilled, who has an entrepreneurial mindset themselves, and who is genuinely interested in your success, you’ll pay between US$30 and $60/hour.

The belief that you have to do it all, all by yourself, is not true. And it’s equally untrue that you’ll need to invest thousands of dollars a month into getting some help. It’s not an either-or proposition.

(I also think there’s much to be said for the mental clutter that is cleaned up when you’ve got someone helping you, even if it’s for one hour a week. By delegating some tasks, your brain is freed up to focus on your creativity.)

Author Concern #2: It’s simpler to do these things myself

Delegating is tough. I get it. Your author business is precious to you and it is difficult to imagine anyone else doing things as quickly, easily and with as much care as you do them. However, as an independent author you also know that there are advantages to not being an expert at everything. You have probably recognized that you don’t need to be a book cover designer, a copyeditor, or a bookkeeper in order to write and sell great books. You can outsource those specific tasks to others who are skilled in these areas.

However, even knowing this, a hurdle that authors often face when hiring a VA is this; initially, it can take longer to explain how you want something done than to just do it yourself. So the danger is remaining stuck in a form of superhero syndrome and continuing to try to do everything yourself.

Deal with this concern by thinking about your long-term strategy. You probably want to build a business that will support you for years to come. Invest some time in showing your new VA how you like things done and from then on you won’t have to even think about that task. Also, consider that even though the VA you hire may be very skilled, she still needs to figure out the way you want things done. At the beginning of the working relationship, a little patience will be required, but it will be rewarded.

Author Concern #3: What exactly should I get a VA to do for me?

It’s possible you feel overwhelmed with the number of tasks involved in running your author business. It’s a slippery slope where you can find that you are spending far too much time administering and not enough time writing. And yet, that overwhelm can lead to paralysis when it comes to figuring out what to delegate.

Here’s my favorite tip for tackling this: For one week, keep a piece of paper on your desk in plain sight and within easy reach (or use your favorite electronic tool for making lists).

Every time you find yourself doing something you either a) don’t like doing and/or consistently avoid or b) know doesn’t need your direct involvement, write it down.

(Most people who do this exercise find that at the end of the week the list is far longer than they expected.)

At the end of the week, take a look at your list. Do you notice any patterns? Are the tasks mostly focused in one or two areas? (e.g., social media or behind-the-scenes technical jobs.) Or are they general administrative type chores? Armed with this information, you can now specifically look for virtual help in the area of your greatest need. Now you know both what you need help with and what kind of skills you need in the person who’s going to be helping you.

(Not all VAs are created equal, so giving some thought to what kind of support you need before you go searching for help is important.)

If you’re still struggling with the idea of what a VA can do for you, here are some specific examples from my own practice:

– Formatting HTML newsletters
– Formatting books for Smashwords
– Research about the business side of being an author (e.g., how Street Teams work, how to market a book in a foreign language, podcasts that might be a good fit to have you as a guest, etc.)
– Scouting for bloggers to send book review requests to
– Pitching to those bloggers and tracking responses
– Formatting (and perhaps light editing) of blog posts, or organizing content
– Managing your Street Team Facebook group (posing questions to keep the group engaged, answering questions, sharing upcoming news, etc.)
– Creating box sets in Scrivener from individual novels
– Moving works translated into a foreign language from Word into Scrivener
– Scheduling tweets and Facebook posts (ones that don’t require your direct input or engagement with your audience)
– Transcribing audio interviews or notes
– For non-fiction authors, VAs can do an enormous number of tasks around webinars or other training you offer (e.g., planning and booking the event, scheduling guests, managing registration lists, dealing with the back-end technology, creating and proofing slide decks, sending out advance information packages to the trainees, and then sending out follow-up information to the trainees, etc.)

Author Concern #4: How do I find a Virtual Assistant?

As with hiring any freelancer, personal recommendations are usually the best place to start. Does anyone in your author circles have a VA they can recommend? Can you put a shout out on KBoards asking for recommendations?

There are several Virtual Assistant organizations, usually based on the country where the VAs are located. Do a Google search for “Virtual Assistant [your country]” and you’ll find these organizations. Once you’re there, you can then do a search by the specific skill(s) you’re looking for and the site will offer a list of names, usually with links to the VAs’ individual websites.

When you’ve got a few names that look promising, be sure to interview several potential candidates so that you can get a sense of both the skills they have on offer and how their personality is going to fit with yours. Your working relationship with the VA will hopefully be long-term so you want to make sure it’s the right fit.

Bonus Tip #1: Start Small

I always recommend to authors that they begin to work with a VA by agreeing to a couple of smaller tasks or projects and then building from there. Rushing in and assigning too much, too fast, usually leads to conflict and fractures in the relationship. Starting small achieves two really important things; it begins to build trust, and it creates a testing ground to ensure the two of you are a good fit.

Ideally as the first few small projects begin and end, you’ll start to trust that your VA knows what they’re doing and can follow instructions and complete the project at the agreed time and in a way that makes you happy. As well, your VA will begin to learn how you work and what matters to you. It’s just as important that you are a good fit for your VA, as she is with you.

Bonus Tip #2: Communication is Key

In her interview with Chris Ducker, Joanna mentions that she and I share several documents on Google Drive so that we’re both always aware of what’s going on and what our expectations are. You can keep a shared spreadsheet to track your VA’s billable hours, so you always know exactly where you are in terms of your budget. Another great idea is to keep a document with the list of projects the VA is working on, in priority order, so that things don’t get forgotten about and so that you both know what your VA is supposed to be working on at any given time. Meeting regularly on the telephone or Skype/FaceTime keeps the communication flowing and also helps to grow your relationship.

I hope this helps any authors who are considering hiring a VA. If you have any questions about any of what I’ve mentioned above, or want more information, please leave a comment below.

You can also learn more at my website.

Business for Authors: How To Be An Author Entrepreneur. Now An Audiobook!

Do you want to take your author business to the next level? Do you love listening to audio? Do you love listening to British accents?!

business audiobooksExciting news! Business for Authors is now available as an audiobook on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. Written by me and narrated by … me! :) Packed full of everything I know about building, growing and running a business as an author.

Whether you’re just starting out with big ambitions, or you’re ready to step it up a level, this book has something for everyone. [And yes, I will be posting soon on all my tips for narrating your own audiobook if that’s something you fancy doing.]

The book has 51 reviews on Amazon.com with a 4.7 star average.

Click here to check out the audiobook on AudibleFreeAudiobookBusinessForAuthors, or you can get it free if you sign up for a 30 day free trial.

You can also listen to a sample on Soundcloud or here on YouTube


What are people saying about Business for Authors?

“Ready to become CEO of your own Global Media Empire? Then Business for Authors is for you, featuring clear and concise steps to managing your writing career.”
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author CJ Lyons

Cj and Liz“This is exactly the book I needed! Business for Authors is like having a charming double agent from the world of business who can tell you all its coveted secrets. It reads like an engaging conversation with someone you can trust ― a theology major! ― and along the way learning the language and strategies of a true entrepreneur.

I wish I had been given this book when I first graduated from my MFA program, back when the accounting of writing was even more of a mystery to me. With warmth and intelligence, Penn demystifies so much about what it takes to be a writer for life. This is a book that will remain on my bookshelf for the years to come.”

Elizabeth Hyde Stevens, Author of Make Art Make Money: Lessons from Jim Henson on Fueling Your Creative Career and Lecturer at Boston University and Harvard University Extension School

The best book I know of for authors who are serious about making their writing into more than a hobby. Joanna Penn writes in an engaging, personal style to lead you through the often-confusing world of publishing for profit, sharing her own hard-won lessons. A boon to self-publishers everywhere.” Joel Friedlander, TheBookDesigner.com

What’s in the book?

Here’s an outline of the table of contents.

Part 1: From Author To Entrepreneur

The arc of the author’s journey, definition of an author-entrepreneur, deciding on your definition of success and why it’s important as well as what you want for your life. Plus/ should you start a company?

blue computerPart 2: Products and Services

How you can turn one manuscript into multiple streams of income by exploiting all the different rights, various business models for authors and how to evaluate your own, information on contracts, copyright and piracy. Plus/ putting together a production plan.

Part 3: Employees, Suppliers and Contractors

The team you need to run your business as an author-entrepreneur. Your role as author and what you’re committing to in the business, as well as co-writing. Editors, agents and publishers, translators, book designers and formatters, audiobook narrators, book-keeping and accounting, virtual assistants. Plus/ how to manage your team.

Part 4: Customers

In-depth questions to help you understand who your customers are and what they want, as well as customer service options for authors.

Part 5: Sales and Distribution

How to sell through distributors and your options, plus all the information you need to sell direct. ISBNs and publishing imprints – do you need them? Plus/ your options for pricing.

PriceTagsPart 6: Marketing

Defining and reframing marketing so you feel more comfortable with it, as well as key overarching concepts. Book-based marketing techniques including cover, back copy and sales pages on the distributors. Author-based marketing around building your platform, and customer-based marketing around your niche audience and targeted media. [This is just an overview. For a whole book on marketing, see my ‘How To Market A Book‘.]

Part 7: Financials

Changing your mindset about money, and assessing where you are now vs where you want to be. Revenues of the author business and how to increase that revenue. Costs of the author business and funding your startup. Banking, PayPal, accounting, reporting, tax and estate planning.

Part 8: Strategy and Planning

checklistWhat is your strategy for your business and why this is important. Developing your business plan. Managing your time and developing professional habits, plus accountability systems. The long term view and the process for becoming a full-time author if you choose that route. Plus/ looking after yourself.

Part 9: Next Steps

Questions from the book to help you work out everything to do with your business, plus encouragement for your next steps.

Appendices, Workbook and Bonus Downloads

There’s also a download page that accompanies the book includes a downloadable workbook with questions in from each chapter. There’s a business plan template as well as hyperlinked lists of tools and resources to help you further.

The Appendices also include bonus interviews on money and how it relates to creativity, writing and life, as well as my own lessons learned over the last years as a full-time author-entrepreneur.

quote peopleMore quotes about the book

“BUSINESS FOR AUTHORS ought to be required reading if you’re a beginning writer who wants to make money in publishing. You can learn it all the hard way, like I did, but that usually takes years and it usually means that you’ll make a LOT of mistakes along the way. Or you can read through Joanna Penn’s awesome little guidebook in just a few hours and save yourself a huge amount of time, energy, and money.”
Randy Ingermanson — author of “Writing Fiction for Dummies“.

“This book demonstrates why Joanna Penn has become a favorite role model for professional author-publishers, those indie-minded writers who want to turn their passion into their job. In it Penn offers the step-by-step process she has followed to success and covers every aspect of earning a good living from writing. Not a word is wasted and not a lesson offered that hasn’t been forged in the hotbed of her own experience. A must-have book for every indie author.” Orna Ross, Bestselling author and founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors

Business for Authors has now become my business bible. Packed with advice, experience and knowledge, it opened my mind to so much more that I could be doing.”
Mel Sherratt, Crime writer and Amazon UK #1 Bestseller.

“With Business for Authors, I felt like I stepped inside the brain of an entrepreneur. I love how Joanna explored the topic from so many angles, and then provided real-life context of how she worked through each opportunity/challenge.”
Dan Blank, WeGrowMedia.com

“There’s no doubt about it, to be successful as an author today you must think like an entrepreneur. But maybe you need some advice and guidance on exactly how to do that? Good news! Joanna Penn’s latest book Business for Authors will walk you through everything you need to know for success. It’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide for authors, written by someone who walks the walk as a best-selling author and entrepreneur.”
Jim F. Kukral, Author Marketing Club

Business for Authors is the most comprehensive book on the business of being an author that I’ve read. I highly recommend it to any author (whether traditionally or self-published) who wants to make a living from their creative work.” – Stephen Campbell, Amazon Review

You can also buy the book in ebook or print formats, as well as audiobook

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Author Entrepreneur: Increase Your Revenue

There’s a learning curve for all indie authors, which I have covered before in the arc of the indie author.

piggy bankBut once you get the hang of the process – writing, editing, publishing, marketing – then you start to think about the business side.

If you want to make more profit, then increasing your revenue will be next on the list.

Derek Sivers sold his company CD Baby and now sells ebooks about starting a business in foreign markets at Woodegg.com. I read this interview with him and he talked about how to increase cash-flow in a business. It struck home as true for authors as well.

There are four basic ways to increase your revenue:

(1) Increase the number of customers you serve

There are a couple of ways to do this:

book browser on iphone

Book Browser function on iPhone Kindle app. All KU books shown.

a) Use KDP Select and go exclusive to Amazon in order to take advantage of the enhanced visibility on the platform that way. I noticed that the Kindle app on the iPhone changed recently to add a Book Browser function, which is entirely dominated by Kindle Unlimited. The emails I get from Amazon are also increasingly KU dominated. As a READER, I have tried KU and didn’t like it – mainly because I like owning the books and don’t want to borrow them – but clearly it is a very popular service. If you’re a new author with only a couple of books, this is definitely the way to go, and many authors are exclusive with all their books. Here are the pros and cons of exclusivity.

b) Publish on multiple platforms and take advantage of a completely different audience who shop elsewhere. This is my preferred approach. Although Amazon’s KDP Select program offers benefits, it limits your sales to people who buy on that particular platform. Amazon may also dominate in the US and UK, but Kobo dominates in Canada, and iBooks dominates in many other global markets. In 2014, I published Pentecost and Desecration-Verletzung in German, kobo writing life map March 2015and in Germany there is a challenger to Kindle in the Tolino reader, which has 40% of the market so is not to be ignored when publishing. I’ve now sold books in 65 countries – the pic left is my sales from Kobo Writing Life. It makes me happy just looking at it!

c) Use marketing and building your platform to attract more customers. There are a LOT of different marketing avenues for authors. I suggest focusing on the one or two methods that you enjoy and make it sustainable for the long term. Whatever you do, make sure that building your email list is a key focus.

d) Publish in multiple formats and multiple languages. If you only publish in ebook format, you will only attract ebook readers. By using print on demand as well as audiobook formats as well, you will reach different customers. If you publish only in English, you will only reach those readers. Indie authors are now branching out into self-publishing in foreign languages or selling rights to those markets.

e) Expand your streams of income. You can increase the customers you serve by adding to your portfolio of services and products. For example, I serve a different customer base through public speaking and live events, and others use online video or audio courses to reach new customers.

(2) Increase the average size of the transaction by selling more

  • This can be done by having multiple books that customers might like within product lines. If a customer buys one book and enjoys it, they are likely to want more. This is why many authors write in a series, and why many Arkane Thriller Boxsetpublishers prefer books in a series, or within a similar brand.
  • If you have more books available, the customer may buy more. The power is in the backlist, which is why being an author is a long-term game. At the London Book Fair 2014, I talked to Barbara Freethy, who has over 35 books and, as I write this, is the bestselling KDP author of all time with over 4.5 million books sold. She mentioned that when someone new discovers her books, she sees an overall effect as they dive into her backlist.
  • Bundling is another way to do this. You can do ebook boxsets as a single author and charge more for a single transaction, which is also a great deal for the customer. For example, I sell ARKANE Books 1-3, Pentecost, Prophecy and Exodus, in a box-set for $5.99. If bought separately, they would cost $9.98, so it’s a good deal for everyone. All you need to do is create a file with multiple books in, and get a cover designed that looks like a boxset, which you can get from Fiverr.

(3) Increase the frequency of transactions by customer

This can be done by releasing books and products more often, so that loyal customers return. It’s also important to use an hm wardemail list to capture their information so that you can tell them when you have a new product available.

  • Some authors are doing this through serialization and novellas. H.M.Ward’s Ferro series is a good example of this, currently with over 18 books in one particular series with many of them 20,000-30,000 word novellas.
  • Others are doing this through co-writing. For example, Jeremy Robinson’s Jack Sigler Chess Team series has several co-authors writing in his world.

(4) Raise your prices

There are a couple of ways in which authors are doing this:

  • price comparisonCharge more for all books. When you’re first starting out, you often need to lower the barrier to entry so that people will try your books with little risk. But as you become more established and more people are aware of your books, you might find that people are happy to pay more. For non-fiction in particular, if you can help people with a problem, they are more likely to pay more. Amazon KDP now has a pricing feature on the publishing page which will analyze books like yours and suggest a new price point. You have to be selling a decent number before it shows any data. As right, it suggests that my Business for Authors should be at $9.99, but I still keep it at $7.99 at the moment.
  • Make the first book available for free and then raise the price of others in the series. If you do the math right, you’ll see that you can make more money this way than using a 99c entry price point.

Do any of these ideas resonate with you? How will you increase your revenue? Please leave a comment below.

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons piggybank by Images Money

Creativity And Entrepreneurship: Lessons Learned By My 40th Birthday

I turned 40 yesterday and I am super thrilled that I have made this milestone birthday while doing something I love with my life!

It’s been a journey and I have learned a lot along the way … I’ve been sharing everything here since 2008 but here are some of the most important things I’ve learned.

First of all, looking back … what a difference 10 years makes!

Joanna Penn at 30

My 30th Birthday in 2005. Face painting in Auckland, New Zealand

On my 30th birthday, I was living in Auckland, New Zealand and newly divorced. The scuba diving business I had with my ex-husband, as well as our property investment was all gone, and I was back at my day job.

I was an IT consultant, implementing Accounts Payable systems into large corporates and small boutique companies (yawn!) – something I did from 1997 – 2011 in the end.

My two best friends were single at the time as well, so we hired a body painter and got glammed up. Cameras were clearly not as handy back then – no smart phones! – but the pics are still quite fun!

On my 40th birthday, I am happily married and living in London, England. I am a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author under J.F.Penn, with 6 novels and 3 novellas out in the ARKANE and London Psychic series, as well as a short story collection.

Joanna Penn

Happy writer at 40!

I also have 4 non-fiction books under Joanna Penn. I’m an award-winning creative entrepreneur, international professional speaker and this site, The Creative Penn, has been voted one of the top 10 sites for writers and self-publishers multiple times. My best friends are writers and I am part of a community of creative entrepreneurs worldwide.

I am incredibly grateful of the opportunities that have led me here, and thank you to all of you who have supported me on the journey.

So how did I make such a dramatic shift? Here’s my lessons learned, in the hope they will help you too.

(1) Take 100% responsibility for your life

the success principlesI first read Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles a little after my 30th birthday, and the 10th anniversary edition has just been released. I still recommend it as a life changing book and am re-reading it at the moment.

The first chapter, Take 100% responsibility for your life, still resonates with me.

I had what many would have seen as a successful life back then. I was earning very good money as a consultant, doing a high status job in one of the best cities of the world.

But I was empty inside.

That emptiness around my career remained even when I met a lovely man and moved to Australia. Which is when I read Jack’s book and decided I had to make some changes.

I had originally decided to change careers way back in 2000 when I went traveling, but I kept ending up back in the same job. My exam results led to a degree at Oxford, which led to a consultancy job, which led into the work I did – seemingly without any real conscious choice. I had ‘fallen into’ a job, as many do, and I needed to make a change.

Since then, I have changed direction several times – learning about blogging, online marketing, writing books, professional speaking and a lot more besides. But it all starts with deciding to take 100% responsibility, stop making excuses, stop blaming other people or your background or whatever and just start on whatever you really want to do with your life.

(2) Balance consumption with creation

Zen BalanceThis was the first major mindset shift and one I still make sure I keep in balance as a creative entrepreneur. Here are a few examples:

  • Make stuff instead of just buying stuff
  • Write a book, don’t just read books
  • Or read a book and put it into action in concrete ways
  • Record a podcast and not just listen to podcasts
  • Record a video and not just watch videos
  • Do an online course to learn something – and then immediately put it into practice and create something from those ideas
  • Spend time creating instead of watching TV, or watch TV and then use those ideas in your own work. Steal like an artist as Austin Kleon says :)

We all NEED consumption as artists – we need to fill our creative well, and learn from other media – but if you record the hours you spend in consumption instead of production, you may see why you’re not getting enough creative writing time in! Remembering this will help you turn your time into finished products.

(3) The magic of scalable income and intellectual property

I’ve had several life-changing moments in my life as an author-entrepreneur:

  • Discovering print on demand and realizing that I didn’t have to pay for printing books. I could just upload digital files and Amazon would sell direct to customers. I didn’t need to hold stock or do any shipping or pay in advance. That was amazing! (especially as I had just paid for 2000 print books, which mostly went in the landfill). Here’s my video on that realization – it’s 5 years old and pretty hilarious!
  • The launch of Amazon Kindle and going digital as a reader. Realizing the potential of reaching readers globally through self-publishing to this new platform radically changed my business plans because the publisher was no longer necessary as middleman. I didn’t have to ask permission anymore. I could just choose myself and give it a go. Here’s another funny vid of me extolling the virtues of the first iteration of the international Kindle. You can see the packing boxes in the background as we were just about to move house in Australia. Again, it’s pretty embarrassing but good to see how far I’ve come since then.
  • Realizing that a book was not just one book. One manuscript can be turned into multiple streams of income through the exploitation of rights. Multiple formats, multiple country sales, multiple languages – and all possible as an indie author. When the penny drops, your head may explode! Read more on this idea here.
  • Understanding that fiction doesn’t age. Every story I write can sell for my lifetime and 70 years after I die according to copyright law. Stories touch people many years later, even generations later. Whereas I have to update my non-fiction every couple of years and I have withdrawn several since starting writing. Ditto for online courses, which date even faster. The best use of my time is therefore creating fiction. Here’s a video of me talking about this realization.

(4) Beware the shadow career

Turning Pro Steven PressfieldAnother book I re-read over and over again is Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield.

He warns of the shadow career, which echoes our calling but entails no real risk. His example is,

“Are you getting your PhD in Elizabethan studies because you’re afraid to write the tragedies and comedies that you know you have inside you?”

Everyone has their different version of a shadow career – and it is hard to face up to.

For me, the constant challenge is: Are you blogging and speaking about self-publishing and book marketing instead of writing the stories that will make an impact on the world?

The former is easier than the latter and it is easily justified.

I love to help other people, and I still make an income from this site, my non-fiction and professional speaking – and I love all of it to a point – but I need to constantly re-evaluate my time in order to create the things that really challenge me.

Does this challenge you? Do you have a shadow career?

(5) The Compound Effect works

compound effectIt’s interesting that in reviewing the biggest changes in my life, the ideas often stem from books that I have read. I’ve never had an ‘in-person’ mentor, but I have had hundreds, if not thousands of mentors online and in books. You’ll find much of their wisdom interspersed in my own non-fiction books. Yes, I am a self-help junkie!

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy is a great book, even if the basic idea is quite obvious.

Essentially, little steps every day in the same direction will get you a very long way over time.

If you keep chopping and changing, and if you give up too soon, you may have nothing. But if you hold to your course, keep making consistent steps towards your goals every day, then you will achieve far more than you think is possible.

This might be 500 words every day on your book, which is 182,000 in a year, which is three thrillers or a couple of fantasy novel, or six romance novellas :)

It might be one blog post a week, making 52 by the end of the year. Or taking one photo a day and sharing it on Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, resulting in the beginnings of a platform by the end of the year. It might be 10 mins meditation a day, leading to a calmer, happier life.

It might be reading 10 pages a day of life-changing books – which has made a huge difference in my life, that’s for sure! You can find more of my recommended books for writers here.

I am evidence of this principle working in practice.

On my 30th birthday, I had no books, and no inkling of even writing one.

I had no website, no blog, no social media, no email list. I knew nothing about publishing or marketing. I didn’t know that I would end up here by 40. I DID have a desire to change my life, and I was willing to take massive action.

It was 3.5 years from the photo at the top of the page to when I started this site in Dec 2008. It was 6 years until I gave up IT consulting forever to become a full-time author entrepreneur. That may seem like a lot of time, or no time at all. But the point is, it can be done.

If you feel unhappy with where you are now, you CAN change things.

In this new world of creative opportunity online, you are empowered to write, to publish, to create, to reach readers directly, to make money online through a myriad of opportunities.

The only thing stopping you is you.

As for me, well, I have plenty of plans for the next 10 years. I hope you will join me for the ride!

Please do let me know what you think in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your journey and lessons learned along the way. 

Limited Time Deal: Learn Scrivener Fast , Kindle Launch Plan, Video Marketing, Book Proposals And More

The one tool that changed my writing life? Definitely Scrivener.

learn scrivener fastIt continues to be the most important piece of software for me as an author of fiction and non-fiction. It helps me organize and plot, write first draft, edit and publish my books. The software itself is incredibly powerful, so I recommend people learn how to use it with the awesome training course, Learn Scrivener Fast.

Well, today is super exciting because you can get Learn Scrivener Fast for just $99 – it usually sells for $179.

*** NO LONGER AVAILABLE – expired on Wednesday, March 11 at midnight EST***

But that’s not all.

When you purchase, you’ll also get eight other amazing ebooks and courses that will help you grow as a writer.

Click here to access Learn Scrivener Fast (Plus Eight Other Resources) Here. $1076 value for just $99writersbundle

This is available through The Writer’s Bundle, an awesome offer for writers that lasts three days ONLY. It expires on Wednesday, March 11 at midnight EST.

If this offer only included Learn Scrivener Fast, I would still be excited as I have found it very useful myself.

“The Learn Scrivener Fast program is the most comprehensive and easy-to-use guide to Scrivener, with short actionable videos that will help you write more efficiently as well as publish more easily. I’m learning so much, and I’ve been using Scrivener for years.”

~ Joanna Penn, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

But there’s a lot more in the Writer’s Bundle! It’s $1076 value for just $99

writers bundle 1Here’s what’s included in the Writer’s Bundle – and links to where I have interviewed the creators, so you can find out more about them. This is also so you know that I rate these fantastic authors & bloggers and believe this is really a good deal!

  • Book Proposal & Manuscript Template, from Joel Friedlander (retails for $27). I’m a huge fan of everything Joel does, and if you want to write a book proposal, this kit guides you through the whole process. I’ve interviewed Joel a number of times – here’s us discussing book cover design.
  • Authority: A Step-By-Step Guide to Self-Publishing, from Nathan Barry (retails for $39)
  • Video Idiot Boot Camp, from Katie Davis (retails for $297). Katie is a super energetic author and illustrator for kids books and also specializes in video marketing. You can see our interview here.
  • Content Strategy for Thought Leaders, from Sarah Kathleen Peck (retails for $300)

As you can see, this is an amazing deal that will help you on your journey to make a living as a writer. Again, it’s available for THREE DAYS ONLY, so grab it while you can!

Click here to read more or to purchase The Writer’s Bundle