Five years ago today I started this blog with my first post: publishing 2.0 is an incredible opportunity for authors and book lovers.
That sentiment hasn't changed but …
Here's a few highlights that resonate for me.
- The first international Amazon Kindle was launched in October 2009 – and I was one of the first to get it in Australia. I was swiftly converted, leaving over 2000 print books behind when I moved from Australia to go 99% digital as a reader. My Amazon income was part of what enabled me to leave my day-job as an IT consultant in Sept 2011 to become a full-time author-entrepreneur.
- Amanda Hocking became the first self-published Kindle millionaire, swiftly followed by a whole load of other indie authors. Hocking also got a 6 figure traditional publishing deal off the back of her indie success, again, followed by a load of other indies which started to change the way self-publishing was viewed by the industry.
- Ebook sales overtook print sales at Amazon and Borders went bankrupt, changing the dominance of physical print bookstores
- Smashwords grew from a startup in 2008 to the #1 producer of indie books [Bowker report] with over 44,000 authors and 130,000 titles
- Kobo Writing Life launched, and has challenged Amazon over best business practices for international authors – multi-currency pricing and direct deposit payments are only done by KWL and KDP, and for non-US authors, this is fantastic.
- ACX.com launched, enabling indie authors to do joint venture deals with voice talent and audio producers, and exploit audio rights themselves. [As of Dec 2013, this is US only, but hopefully it will become international in 2014]
- The Alliance of Independent Authors launched, providing a stronger voice for a disparate community, fighting for indie rights, educating the media and encouraging quality production and creative expression.
- Hugh Howey signed a print only rights deal for Wool and it was optioned for film by Ridley Scott, making the hybrid author a new reality. Agents and publishers now openly pitch successful indie authors.
At the end of that very first post, I wrote:
“This blog will be focused on self-publishing, print-on-demand, internet sales and marketing and new technologies in the publishing arena.”
I know many of you have been reading the site for a while now, and I hope you have learned a lot along with me. But after five years, it's time to make a change and pivot my focus a little.
So why am I changing things?
When I started blogging in 2008, self-publishing was not a cool and trendy thing. There were only a couple of people blogging about self-publishing that I remember clearly: April Hamilton @indieauthor ; Mark Coker of Smashwords; Joel Friedlander from The Book Designer; Penny Sansevieri from Author Marketing Experts and Aaron Shepard.
There were people in the non-fiction and speaking space who self-published openly, like Dan Poynter. There were also bloggers who sold digital products like PDF ‘ebooks', but the word ‘self-publishing' was still pretty dirty to most people.
Not any more.
There are now a LOT of blogs on self-publishing and they continue to proliferate as authors get excited about their opportunities.
This is fantastic but it means The Creative Penn is no longer unique in the content it offers. In the last couple of weeks, I've also been asked to blurb or review 7 different books on self-publishing, many of which cover the same type of topics from a different perspective.
All of this is valid and useful, and I love that there is so much energy in this space. But actually, the publishing part is just procedural for me now and I'm happy for other people to focus on blogging about it.
I started blogging in order to share what I learned on the journey of being an author. I continue to do this, but this site has to be fun for me too and I've changed a lot in 5 years.
In 2008, I was an IT consultant with one non-fiction book, no online platform, no social network, no podcast, no speaking career, with no clue of writing fiction and no idea about marketing. I was living in Brisbane, Australia and didn't know any authors at all. I was just starting to discover the world of self-publishing and online business.
In 2013, I'm a full-time author-entrepreneur and an Amazon bestselling author with over 75,000 books sold. I've just launched my 4th full-length novel, Desecration, my books are available in ebook, print and audio and are now selling in 22 countries globally. I'm doing joint venture deals for translation into German and Spanish. I'm a international speaker, and have been voted as one of The Guardian Top 100 Culture Professionals 2013 (UK). I live in London and most of my friends are authors.
I hope that encourages you, because although I've come a long way, I also feel I have a (very) long way to go. That's a good thing, because we can write until the day we die, and I want to be learning on my death-bed.
But frankly, I am bored with talking about self-publishing and the basics of the indie life. I want to take it up a level and provide more of a graduate level education around being an indie author and creative entrepreneur.
So what's changing?
I will still provide a road-map for the basics of self-publishing, for people who are new to the game.
I've just re-written and re-released my Author 2.0 Blueprint which the most up-to-date information on self-publishing. It's 87 pages and contains everything I want to share about self-publishing as well as some tips on writing, editing and marketing. It's free and you can sign up to get it here, if you haven't got it already!
So that is all freely available and I'll update the information over time with any major changes.
But The Creative Penn will now focus on two main areas, which are topics that we can all continue to learn about:
The craft of writing is something we all care about, and we all want to improve. I don't think any of us can get enough of reading about writing, and using that information to improve our own skills. I am a writer, and so are you, so this will continue to be a pillar of the site.
With the release of Desecration, I feel as if I have started to find my true voice. I've always been honest on this site, but I want to go deeper, so expect some more personal posts. Not often, as I still want to provide actionable information, but I've been holding back. No more.
Yes, I love the craft, and yes, I love writing for writing's sake but the myth of the poor author in the garret annoys the hell out of me. I also find myself increasingly angry about the lack of education for authors/writers/creatives around business, and I want to change that.
An entrepreneur creates value out of nothing, and authors certainly do that. I believe the essence of creative entrepreneurship is to make stuff and sell stuff … but of course, the details are the interesting part!
Back in Sept, I did a round-up of my last 2 years as an author-entrepreneur, including my income sources. I used to only receive income from ebooks from the US and UK, now I receive income from ebooks, print, and audiobooks, selling in 22 countries, as well as speaking and online training.
Yes, I'll still massively excited about everything to do with self-publishing, and I'll still share major developments, but I want to go beyond the questions of a) how do I publish a book and b) how do I start to market my books.
I want to know what else is possible.
I want to learn about how to exploit more of my rights – how to work with translators effectively, how each of the international markets work and how to reach people there, how to turn my books into treatments for film/TV options, how to collaborate with other entrepreneurs.
I want to stay on the edge of the latest marketing experiments, going beyond the basics to what others are doing in different industries that we can learn from. I want to know how we can use emerging technologies, like 3D printing, to involve people in our creative worlds.
I want to up my speaking game, travel more, speak more to bigger audiences and spread the word about the opportunities for creatives further.
I want to interview amazing creatives and discover new things that excite us and inspire us to greater heights. I want to share guest posts from creative entrepreneurs doing amazing things.
I want to step into the next phase of my own author-entrepreneur career.
And I want to share the next step of the journey with you.
As well as continuing to write on the blog, I'll also be producing:
- The Creative Penn podcast – now at 170 episodes and counting. Available on iTunes and other podcatchers.
- Videos – YouTube.com/thecreativepenn – now at 222 videos and counting
- Sharing on Twitter @thecreativepenn
- More on my fiction site, JFPenn.com, and writing more books!
I'd love to know what you think about this change. Please do leave a comment or question below.