Creating Money, Creating Meaning. Getting Into Financial Flow With Orna Ross

Our attitudes to money shape so much of our lives, and today I explore how we can integrate our creativity with our money in discussion with Orna Ross. If you’re struggling with your financial journey, then you’ll find this interview fascinating.

In the intro, I talk about my lessons learned after 3 years as a full time author-entrepreneur and what’s changing for me right now.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

Kobo’s financial support pays for the hosting and transcription, and if you enjoy the show, you can now support my time on Patreon. Thank you!

orna rossOrna Ross is a poet, award-winning and bestselling literary fiction author and founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors, also voted one of the Top 100 most influential people in publishing last year. Orna also blogs and writes non-fiction books on creativity, and today we’re talking about her latest book, Creating Money, Creating Meaning: Getting into financial flow.

There’s a video on YouTube here.

We discuss:

  • How Orna’s Go Creative series explores creativism – exploring creativity with things we don’t usually associate with that. This particular book started life over 10 years ago when Orna started to explore the idea of applying the creative process to making money – and it turned out to be fun!
  • Why creative people have an issue with talking about money. How our backgrounds can shape our attitudes. Overworking, underearning, undercharging – do you recognize these issues? It’s common amongst creatives and you can change.
  • How you can start to change your attitude to money. Look at your behaviour and the way you talk about it. On welcoming money in, in a similar way to inviting the Muse in for our writing (as Stephen Pressfield talks about in ‘The War of Art.’) Changing your thinking from conventional thinking, deconstructing thought patterns.
  • How to deal with money discussions in your relationships. How differing money attitudes can co-exist in a relationship.
  • The 7 stages of the creative process for the money journey, using me (Joanna) as an example! The importance of setting your Intention for creating money coveryour financial life, as well as your creative life. Incubation – let it settle and while you’re thinking, move into Investigation – learning about how to get there and what you have to do to make it. If you’re serious, you need to change your behavior, and learn new skills. You need to spend the time thinking about what you REALLY want. It takes time to make this shift.
  • Drafting – if your financial goal is to become a full-time author, this part will be testing out what that really means. Maybe doing it on the side while you work your day job, as I did part-time for 3 years. Clarification, when you bed down what you are moving into. Amplification – consider what worked for you and what needs to be changed and let go of. You’re now starting to understand who you really are, as well as your business model. What you will and won’t do. Which opportunities will you take advantage of?
  • Many of us repeat this process multiple times, and we learn along the way. It’s a long term process! People also drop out during the process if they aren’t on the right path. Life is a challenge – no one said it would be easy!
  • Completion – you’ve done what you set out to do e.g. leaving the day job, or reaching a financial goal. There’s an emotional moment, and then you start all over again the next stay, towards your next goal. That will change as you move through the journey. Finishing energy is really important, but often the original intention has morphed over time.
  • On acceptance, enjoyment and enthusiasm. Why some people should keep the day job to make money, and only write for fun.
  • Comparisonitis and envy around money – how to reframe it so that you can create that success within yourself.
  • The practices of release and letting go: inspiration meditation, FREE writing and mind free movement, all of which are part of the exercises in the book.
  • Why this book has been so hard for Orna, and her own money journey. On long-term thinking.

You can find Orna at You can buy Creating Money, Creating Meaning: Getting into financial flow here (on preorder until Sept 23, 2014). My own money story is included in the book, and I think this mindset shift around money is a perfect accompaniment to my book, Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur.

Do you have any questions about money or mindset, or the creative process? Please do leave a comment below and Orna will try to address it.



Lessons Learned From 3 Years As An Author-Entrepreneur

Three years ago, I gave up a career as an IT business consultant for large corporates, earning a six-figure income, to become a full-time author-entrepreneur.

champagneOver the last few years, I have shared my income split, business model and my lessons learned from year 1, as well as lessons learned from year 2. Here’s the latest installment at the end of year 3.

How do I currently make a living as an author-entrepreneur?

I didn’t double my income from last year as planned, but my overall income increased by 24% which isn’t bad. I’m not doing a full income disclosure like some brave souls, but I did make over double the average income for a man in the UK in the last tax year.

pie chartThe income split changed as I intended, which is great, as I am moving away from online courses to focus on book-based products, because they are more evergreen and don’t need updating.

In the last year, the split has been:
•    40% book royalties
•    25% course sales and consulting
•    20% commission/affiliate sales/sponsorship
•    15% professional speaking

I have followed the plan to write more books and create more products in the world. I currently have five books in the ARKANE action-adventure thriller series, and two in the London Psychic series. The books are available in ebook, print and audio formats.


Kobo sales in 58 countries

I also have books in German, Spanish and Italian. I’ve sold books in 58 countries (as itemized by the Kobo Writing Life reporting map right.) I also have four non-fiction books, available in print and ebook formats, and coming soon in audio.

There are new revenue streams from audiobooks since ACX launched, and direct payments from Apple and Nook, as well as Kobo and Amazon, plus podcast sponsorship. I’m pleased about that as I have a lot of issues being dependent on one income source - put that down to being laid off during the GFC!

One of my books was in a box-set that hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists in March, and I have my first traditional deal with Ullstein-Midnight, a German imprint, for Desecration-Verletzung.

I continue to sell some multimedia courses, although those will mostly be phased out in the next year. The blog, podcast and my email list earn me affiliate commission as well as sponsorship and occasional advertising revenue. I do some occasional, exclusive consulting. I also continue to speak professionally both in the UK and abroad. I was on a panel at Thrillerfest in New York in July, and am speaking in Stockholm and Frankfurt in the next few weeks.

Here are my lessons learned from the last year.

Lesson 1: The industry changes but the fundamentals of what we do doesn’t change

hand writingThere have been a number of changes in the publishing eco-system in the last year which have created a ‘disturbance in the force,’ and distracted me and others. But these ups and downs will continue over our lifetimes.

Change is certain but we can’t let every little spat distract us from our task.

We write books. We get them into the world using one of many available publishing options. We connect with readers. We receive payment and use that money to live well and experience everything that feeds back into our books.

The tools, the companies, the technology that allows us to do these things may well change, but our job remains the same. Remaining agile is one key to managing the change, so being indie continues to suit me well.

Lesson 2: “If it’s just about the cashflow, go back to your day job”

So said my husband when I reviewed the income projections for my books and lamented missing my targets. He’s right. I earned three times as much money as a business consultant, but I was so unhappy, I could never have sustained it. I was at the point of crying most days because I hated it so much.

I love this author life. I couldn’t imagine living any other way now, but although cash-flow is important, it’s not my driving force. Freedom is.


Me on the tallship Soren Larsen. Blue water sailing from Fiji to Vanuatu

Freedom to create, to live how I want to, to travel, to help people, to control my time, to build my own brand and my own assets.

I’ve had a number of opportunities this year that I’ve turned down, even though taking them would have earned me more money.

Strategy is about what we don’t do, as well as what we do.

With a finite amount of time and energy, we have to focus on the true reasons why we live this life. My recent novel, Delirium, may have a smaller audience than a happy-ending-romance but it’s what I am drawn to write. Like Stephen King says about writing horror, “What makes you think I have a choice?”

Lesson 3: It takes time to let go of self-censorship and find your true voice

Desecration was the first book where I finally let my true self out, and Delirium continues in that vein with a very personal author’s note at the end. I love my ARKANE series but these are the first books where I feel my true voice shines through.

DeliriumBoth books are supernatural suspense/ crime thrillers that tackle underlying themes I’ve been wrestling with all my life. Many authors struggle with the fear of judgement and I have let that hold me back for a long time.

I really am this happy, jolly, smiley girl you see at … but my shadow side is now revealed in J.F.Penn. I’m finally at peace with letting this other side out … but it’s taken many years to get here. I’m ready to let it out now!

Lesson 4: It all comes back to creativity

I’m in a transition phase right now, which means a lot of turmoil and journaling! I have spent the last few years learning how this industry works, learning my craft as a fiction writer, learning about marketing and speaking … and the result of that has been this blog, the podcast and my non-fiction books.

As stated above, my last few fiction books have felt like a shift, as I have found my voice. Plus, I’m 40 next year, and unsurprisingly, I do find myself taking stock. What I am discovering is that this quote from T.S.Eliot is true:

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

I find myself drawn back to creativity, back to exploring what’s in my mind, trying to understand how I can delve deeper into my creativity and learn more I am creative. I am an author. Creativity.about releasing it from the critic that tries to destroy every idea.

Way back in 2007, I made a little card with an affirmation on: “I am creative. I am an author.”

I couldn’t even say it out loud back then, but I read it in my head until I could say it. And then I read it out loud every day until I believed it. And then I took action to make it happen. In some ways, I have achieved that affirmation – in other ways, I am only just beginning to understand what it means.

I look forward to exploring this and sharing the journey with you!

My plans for Author-Entrepreneur Year 4

My plans and focus for the next year include:

  • Big focus on primarily fiction. I have a LOT of ideas, I just need to get them on the page. I have a number of stand-alones as well as (working titles) Inquisition and Kali in the ARKANE series, and a new one in the London Psychic series. I also want to write a psychology for writers book. I will continue to focus on exploiting the rights per book, as well as recording more of my own audio.
  • Taking more risks and learning how to keep my critic quiet. My critic is a ‘good girl,’ she wants universal adoration. She doesn’t like annoying people or going too far to the edge. It’s time for her to know her place. I just have to work out how to shut her down in the first draft. I’m definitely intending to do some Improv training, learning how to say ‘yes’ to any impulse.
  • Speak internationally on creative entrepreneurship, focusing on fewer, more highly paid events, that support my goals around travel and personal development.
  • Continue to serve the audience of through blogging and podcasting as well as social media.
  • Increase my income by 30% and change my income split to 50% book royalties, 10% course sales and consulting, 20% commission/affiliate sales/sponsorship, 20% professional speaking.

I look forward to sharing the next year with you!

Please do leave your comments below and join the conversation – I value each and every one!

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons champagne by Andrea Parrish, handwriting by Dave King,

Risk-Taking, Author Collaboration And Marketing Ideas With J Thorn

It’s great to learn from successful indies who can share their insights into lessons learned on the journey. Today I have a laughter-filled chat with horror writer, J Thorn.

J ThornJ Thorn is a bestselling horror writer,  consistently one of the Top 100 Most Popular Authors in Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy, with his bestselling books selling over 100,000 copies. J is also a podcaster, entrepreneur and speaker. His latest book is the Black Fang Betrayal.

You can watch the video below or here on YouTube. You can listen below or on Soundcloud. Or there are show notes below the multimedia.

J and I have a complete laugh and discuss:

  • On genre and categorization. Why we need to put things in boxes, but how J writes stories, regardless of how they are categorized. You don’t have to write in a hot genre in order to sell, just write what you love, and readers will find you. If it has a demon in it, is it horror? It’s up to the author to claim the tag.
  • On being entrepreneurial. Taking risks, trying things out and then moving on if it doesn’t work. Iterations and pivoting apply to authors as well. For example, J started to market multi-author box-sets but it didn’t work out, as box-sets have started to be less successful. You have to leave the ego behind and just take risks. Try things out, go play and just get on with it. None of us know what we’re doing – we’re just trying it.
  • Lessons learned from going indie: You have to make risks and you will fail most of the time. You also have to GIVE, authentically, without black fang betrayalexpecting a return. It’s not a barter. [I also believe that social karma and generosity are at the heart of the internet eco-system.]
  • The Black Fang Betrayal – a collaboration with 10 authors on one single story. It’s not a box-set, it’s one story managed and published by J. The writing part is the easy part. The management piece was positive, but a challenge!
  • On being control freaks and loving the freedom of being indie.
  • On branding and website. Rewriting bios and product descriptions. The pain of getting to a consistent brand. J’s brand is authentic as it’s who he is. As a heavy metal and horror fan since a teenager is natural. It’s taken a long time to be proud of who he is, but J talks about how all of our journeys are about reaching this point.

You can find J at and his latest book is the Black Fang Betrayal.

Productivity Tips And Running Your Author Business With Jen Talty

I love to talk about the business side of being an author, and helping creatives move into the entrepreneurial sphere is a key focus on the blog these days.

Today I talk to Jen Talty, COO of Cool Gus Publishing, and she gives us an insight into how she helps run the lives of a dozen bestselling authors.

In the intro, I mention Business for Authors on pre-order at Amazon, Kobo and iBooks, Amazon KDP for kids, Kobo Aura H20, the arrival of IOS8 and what it means for authors. Plus, join me for a free webinar on using Scrivener for NaNoWriMo, or in Stockholm, Frankfurt or London for one of my upcoming speaking events.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

Kobo’s financial support pays for the hosting and transcription, and if you enjoy the show, you can now support my time on Patreon. Thank you!

Jen TaltyJen Talty is an award winning author, professional speaker and COO, Chief Operating Officer for Cool Gus, a publishing business she co-created with Bob Mayer.

You can watch the interview on YouTube here, listen above or on the podcast feed on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcription below. We discuss:

  • Jen’s background as an author and how she started writing while sitting by the side of the ice rink as her sons played ice hockey. After a difficult experience in traditional publishing, Jen was looking to the future of digital, and as a technophile, she was excited about the possibilities with ebooks.
  • How Jen helped Bob Mayer with his ebook backlist, and how together, they set up Cool Gus, which now has a dozen authors within it. Jen’s role in the business is basically doing everything except the writing! And yes, we all want a Jen clone!
  • The daily functions of the COO role – the kind of things that all authors do, like getting editing and covers organized as well as marketing campaigns. Jen runs double screens and lots of spreadsheets!
  • Productivity tips for authors and how to be more organized when running this all on your own. Making lists and focusing on one thing at a time. Using different locations to do different things.
  • Tips for book cover design. Using social media. On SlideShares and book trailers and trying different things over time.
  • How to build your author strategy for a long term business. On ambition and goal setting.
  • Talking techy. Ebook formatting and looking into the next few years of publishing.

You can find Jen and her books at or on twitter @JenTalty . The latest releases from CoolGus are Shit Doesn’t Just Happen by Bob Mayer, Dante’s Fire by Jennifer Probst and Lucky Catch by Deborah Coonts.


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Self-Publishing In Italian, Tips For Translation And The Launch Of Profanazione

Continuing with my adventures in self-publishing translation series, today it’s the turn of Profanazione, my first novel in Italian.

ProfanazioneSmallI wasn’t intending to self-publish in Italy, mainly because the market is very small, but when experienced author and translator, Virginio B. Sala emailed me, I jumped at the opportunity.

Here’s an interview with Virginio, and if you read Italian, or know people who do, Profanazione is free on Kindle between 26 – 30 August, 2014. You can read the description and watch the trailer at the bottom of the post. You can also read the interview in Italian here.

Plus, there’s an interview with me about why I wanted the investigate the Italian market on here.

Virginio, tell us a bit about you and your writing/publishing background

virginiobsalaI’ve been working in the publishing field since I was 18. My first job was with a press agency – as a translator of sport news from German to Italian. There weren’t any personal computers then, only mechanical typewriters and teletypes… After three years, the agency closed but I went on working in the field, partly as a freelance and partly as an employee.

The most interesting experiences were as an editor with “Le Scienze”, the Italian edition of “Scientific American”, my first job as an editor in chief with Franco Muzzio Editore, then as responsible for the books division of Mondadori Informatica, and my last job as “editorial director” with Apogeo. I was with Apogeo for eleven years, then at the end of 2008 I quit and decided to go back freelancing. In 2013 I moved from Milan area to Tuscany, with my family – we now live in a small “borgo” in the hills of Lunigiana, near Pontremoli, a handful of houses with less than twenty regular residents.

I wrote about your work and your blog in a recently published book: my contribution is titled “La Galassia Gutenberg e la nebulosa Turing” (Gutenberg Galaxy and Turing Nebula), and is part of the volume “Digital Writing” edited by Alessandra Anichini and published in 2014 by Maggioli, Milano.

What is the book market like in Italy? What kind of books do Italians like?

Unfortunately, Italy is not a great market, it is virtually the only market for Italian language publications – and book reading is not one of the most widespread habits. It has to do with our history. There is a “hard core” of power readers, but for a large proportion of the Italians book reading is not on top of their interests. As for the taste of the Italian readers, it is not so different from the taste of the other European countries. Fiction and literary fiction are usually at the top of the bestsellers lists – many translations but also a few Italian authors: crime, thrillers, romance, fantasy, and also books about current affairs.

What do you see as the changes coming in the Italian publishing scene, in terms of the rise of ebooks and self-publishing?

Things are moving – slowly, but moving. Inertia is strong, and the crisis of these years doesn’t help. But there are a few interesting new realities, young (digital only) publishers, indie authors. It will be a challenge, given the limited size of the market for the Italian language, to find the right mix of elements for an economically sustainable activity – for publishers, authors, translators.

Why did you want to translate Desecration?

I became interested in The Creative Penn blog a few years ago, when you published the first version of your “Author 2.0”: it was an interesting work. I began following the blog regularly and followed the “making of” Pentecost and your first moves in the fiction world. I even used the blog as a case study, lecturing at the University in Florence.

The idea of translating one of your books came later, as an outcome of many reflections about the evolution of the book industry, the e-book, the world of indie authors. In my career, I have translated many books (mostly non-fiction), but always following the traditional chain of work. The idea of a different approach was tempting, and having a direct relationship with an author is interesting.

In Desecration, I was attracted by the context of the Royal College of Surgeons, the connections with the history of anatomy –history and philosophy of science are among my passions (I have a degree in Philosophy), as well as music.

What are some of the particular challenges around translating to Italian? Were there any surprises in the translation of Desecration?

I read Desecration before starting the translation, and it wasn’t the first of your books I read – so I knew fairly well what I was going to meet. Challenging, but not impossible.

Some of the most intriguing decisions were with the translation of the pronoun “you” – in Italian (as in French or in German) there are two possible choices, the more personal and intimate “tu” and the more respectful “lei”. Sometimes it is clear what the right solution is, but not always. I had the problem in a couple of cases – in particular for the relationship between Jamie and Blake: it begins as a relationship between two strangers, but then it gradually changes.

What are your tips for translators working with indie authors?

The same I would give for any translation. What makes the difference is the relationship with the author: not being mediated by a chain of publisher-agent-publisher or whatever, it is a personal relationship. No safety net, in a sense – but it can be more rewarding. But, as any other personal relationship, it has to be nurtured, first of all by trust.

What are your tips for authors who want to find a good Italian translator for their books? How do they evaluate the translator?

If you cannot read the language, it’s not easy. If the translator already did other works, you can probably find some evaluation online, or you can try to go backwards, identify first a translated book (somehow comparable to yours) and then try to contact the translator. LinkedIn and Facebook are great for this kind of research.

But I wouldn’t discard the idea of a young translator at his first work: you could try to go through a school for translators, contact a teacher and ask for a newly graduated student who can be right for you. The teacher could also act as a reviewer… There are also master courses at university level, often linked to creative writing schools. It would be interesting if anybody would set up a specialized, international network directly connecting authors, translators, reviewers and so on, all the people involved. Probably something of this kind will be necessary, in the future, if self-publishing will grow. Or maybe somebody already did it – and simply I’m not aware of it.

How can people contact you?

My (occasional) blog is at

Twitter @viacartesio


Profanazione – Free on Kindle 26 – 30 August, 2014 and then 2,99

ProfanazioneSmallNon sempre la morte è la fine.

LONDRA. Nei locali del Royal College of Surgeons viene trovato il corpo di una giovane donna, e le indagini sono affidate alla Detective Jamie Brooke. Un’antica, inquietante figurina d’avorio, lasciata accanto al cadavere, è l’unico indizio, e Jamie chiede aiuto a Blake Daniel, chiaroveggente riluttante, per scoprire quale sia il suo significato.

Quando una tragedia personale la colpisce, la vita della stessa Jamie finisce per intrecciarsi con la torbida vicenda: dovrà correre contro il tempo per impedire che ci sia una nuova vittima.

Jamie e Blake penetrano in un mondo macabro di profanatori di tombe, di modificazioni del corpo e di mostri creati con l’ingegneria genetica e devono lottare per non perdere la salute mentale e la vita.

˃˃˃ Autrice bestseller del New York Times e di USA Today, J.F.Penn

Autrice bestseller del New York Times e di Usa Today, nata in Inghilterra e laureata a Oxford, J.F. Penn ha viaggiato in tutto il mondo per studiare religione e psicologia. Queste sue ossessioni, l’amore per i thriller e l’interesse per il soprannaturale si fondono nelle storie che scrive.

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Prossimamente in stampa e altri formati di ebook.

Book Trailer

Ricerche e fonti di ispirazione alla base di Profanazione.