OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Back in 2007, I was very unhappy in my day job.
In fact, I've never been happy in my day job but it paid the bills, enabled me to travel and I met a lot of great people. It was a mixed blessing. I fell into it to repay my student loan and just never escaped. I worked for big companies on computer systems and the work killed any creativity I had in me.
In 2000, I resigned, left London for the Australian outback, and swore never to do it again. My adventures were fantastic but eventually, I ran out of money and went back. This cycle repeated itself a number of times… then in 2007, I was really, seriously over it. So I began investigating what else I could do with my life that would be helpful to other people and also enable me to escape the day job.
At the time, I read two books that made a huge impact on me. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. They talked about following your dreams and also using affirmations to set your intentions. The problem with changing your life is often knowing what you want instead of the status quo. When I looked at what I had always wanted, it was only ever to be a writer.
So I came up with my affirmation “I am creative. I am an author”.
At the time, I was not creative and I was not an author. Sure, I wrote diaries and letters but I couldn't ever associate the word creative with me. I couldn't even say this phrase out loud at first. I wrote it down and then started whispering it on the commute home (when no one was around!) I also moved to four days a week at the day job to give myself head-space to write my first book.
In April 2008, I self-published How To Enjoy Your Job…Or Find A New One. I was so happy and proud of myself. I thought I was going to change the world and free millions of IT consultants from their miserable lives. I spent money on printing physical books and did some old-style PR with press releases, radio and even national TV.
But I only sold a few books. Literally, a few. Even with national TV. I was devastated, but wasn't intending to give up (as the affirmations were really kicking in now!) I also discovered that the book you write will change your life. It really did change mine as I understood what writing a book was like and I had found my purpose.
But I realized that I didn't actually have a clue about marketing online. I had focused on traditional PR but what about the internet? So I started researching and buying online programs to learn about blogging and podcasting and other things.
After a couple of other attempts at blogging, I started this site in December 2008 in order to share what I had learned with the failure of my first book. For example, I had spent thousands of dollars on printing books and then discovered print on demand and selling on Amazon. I was determined that no one else would pay the price I did and I wanted to save people time, money and emotional energy on their own journey. I had also started feeling and becoming creative and the name ‘The Creative Penn' came to me on the commute one day. I claimed the word for myself and have grown into it over time!
Since then, this site has grown and I have personally grown as a writer. Many of you have been here to see the changes over time. Thank you for sharing the journey with me so far. I have also continued to invest in my education as an online marketer and I absolutely love our online author community. In February this year, I published Pentecost, my first novel, which has now sold over 11,000 copies and remains an Amazon bestseller. The sequel, Prophecy is on its way. [Update: Later re-edited and republished as Stone of Fire and Crypt of Bone.]
So in August 2011, I decided that my affirmation has been fulfilled. I am creative and I am an author. I wanted to share this with you as encouragement as I know the fears that come with writing and the doubts that plague us. I'm an introvert too and have been crushed and hurt along the way. But I am also truly excited about the years to come as we are part of an incredible change in the industry.
So, all this background is to prepare you for my big news.
I have resigned my day job as an IT consultant in order to focus on my fiction writing and also on The Creative Penn community of writers and authors.
This is not a decision taken lightly (and yes, I have been saving for a while so there is a cushion). This has been coming since that day in 2007 when I just couldn't take any more but it has taken this long to make a change that my risk-averse nature can bear. There have also been some inspirational people who have helped along the way, including Jonathan Fields with his new book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance which kicked me over the final line.
This is an uncertain time but I can see the way forward as an indie author and also as someone who can contribute to the creative community. I'm ready to make the leap!
What does this mean for you?
This blog makes me happy 🙂 I don't mean to sound cheesy but I love to be useful and sharing what works (and what doesn't), as well as lessons learned, is very satisfying. I love getting emails from you and I love the comments. I hope you continue to find the site useful.
So you will still be getting the same quality of free information in terms of articles, audios and videos – nothing changes with the baseline of what you already get on this site. I love sharing and interviewing people and this is a great community, so stick around.
But this change gives me 40-50 extra hours per week (wow!) and so the following will also become available:
- More fiction. If you enjoyed Pentecost, you will love Prophecy and now I will have more time to write! I'm going to be spending every morning writing fiction and every afternoon on this business, so expect the fiction back-list to be growing. Yes, I still want to be a Kindle millionaire 🙂 Also, I will be starting a new blog for my fiction readers who are a different audience to this one. [Update: I do have some articles and videos at www.JFPenn.com and also a podcast at Books and Travel.]
- Webinars and Multi-media courses. [Update: You can find all my courses for authors here.]
- Services. Every day I am asked to recommend people for ebook formatting, cover design, editing, blog building or marketing. In order to expand The Creative Penn, I will be partnering with special people to offer packages that give you value with people I can personally vouch for. [Update: You can find my resource lists here.]
- 1:1 Consulting. I am really looking forward to helping more people with their journey and I will be offering a restricted number of targeted consulting sessions on reviewing and improving author platforms. [Update: While I did do consulting for a few years, I no longer do 1:1 work. You can join my Patreon for access to Q&A.]
I'm looking forward to the next step (which is just slightly outside my comfort zone!).