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is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date.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
One of the reasons I'm honest with you all on this site is for accountability.
This blog has always been about sharing what I learn on the writer's journey, so here's my assessment of my own goals for the year. You can read the Jan 2, 2013 post here if you want to compare what I committed to vs. what I have done. Some of you also left your goals in the comments, so I'd love to hear what you've achieved.
(1) Main goal: Stick with Plan A and create more books
Here are the books I have completed and worked on this year.
- New crime thriller – Desecration is out now, and I am hugely proud of the book. I finally feel as if I am finding my own voice, and I am immensely proud of this book. It's a new direction for me, and one I will be continuing.
- Non-fiction – ‘How To Market A Book‘. A #1 Amazon category bestseller on release.
- ARKANE Novella set in Hungary – ‘One Day In Budapest‘ Bestseller in International Mystery & Crime
- PLUS/ A Thousand Fiendish Angels, a short story collection based on Dante's Inferno, originally written for Kobo and now available on Amazon as well.
- PLUS/ ARKANE Thriller Box Set – Pentecost, Prophecy and Exodus
- Non-fiction – Creative Business/ Solopreneur – switched to Public Speaking. Currently with my proofreader, so will be out in Jan.
- New crime thriller – Delirium. Plotted and first draft in progress
Total Word Count 2013 for books: 235,949 + ~50,000 for the blog and guest articles etc.
(2) Get back into print and audio … plus, foreign rights
I can definitely tick this goal off as:
- All my books are in print with the exception of ‘A Thousand Fiendish Angels,' which is a short story collection, so really too short for print. I'd like to thank Derek from Creativindie Book Covers for all the amazing covers, and Jane from JDSmithDesign for the stunning interior design.
- Pentecost, Prophecy and Exodus are all available on Audible and iTunes as audiobooks. I interviewed my narrator, Veronica Giguere, on the podcast here. You can read more about the audio deal on my fiction site at JFPenn.com.
I’m going to add foreign rights to the list, as I have signed joint venture deals with translators for German, Spanish and Italian.
This are all 50/50 royalty splits based on translators being marketing partners. I'll talk more about how this works in 2014.
(2) The Creative Penn Blog, Podcast, Videos and Online Courses
I reached my 5th anniversary on the site, and changed the direction with the intent of being a graduate program for indie authors and creative entrepreneurs.
The Creative Penn podcast is now sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, and I continue to enjoy doing interviews on YouTube and on the audio feed. We're now up to 173 episodes with more to come in 2014.
CJ Lyons and I updated the ProWriter multimedia courses, and Roz Morris and I added additional audio to ‘How to write a novel.'
(3) Professional Speaking
I've had a pretty busy speaking year. Highlights have been:
- London Book Fair, April 2013 – I think I was the first independent author to run a mainstream program session on marketing ever!
- Berlin ePubli conference – I loved being in Berlin, such an awesome city and a brilliant load of publishing startup enthusiastic people
- The Guardian Masterclasses – more to come in 2014
- FutureBook Publishing conference – I only had 10 mins but I was speaking to 500+ industry professionals, so it was a great opportunity to demonstrate the indie mindset and seemed to go down well
(4) Do an international research trip
I added an international research trip to the goals for the year, and spent 2 weeks cycling through southern India in September. Full report here, but it led into interviewing Minal Hajratwala about the potential for publishing in India, as well as some ideas for an ARKANE novel, which I might get to in 2014. I definitely intend to travel more next year, (so if you hear of any speaking opportunities, let me know!)
(5) Now an award-winner!
In November, I was announced as one of The Guardian's Top 100 Creative Professionals in the publishing sector, which was pretty awesome! It's at least a recognition that publishing is changing, and recognizing independent authors as playing a valid part in the future of the industry.
Right, that's me done!
What have you achieved in 2013? Please share your successes, even little ones, in the comments below, and let's celebrate together!
Russell Phillips says
In no particular order :
I only released one book, but I found a cover designer that I’m happy with, and got new (much better!) covers for most of my books. The remaining one will get a new cover soon.
I’ve always thought of publishing as a business, but I seem to have become more business-like this year. I’ve not made money this year, but that’s because I’ve been investing in things that should pay off in the longer term.
Most of my books are now available as paperbacks.
I attended my first writer’s conference, and got more out of it than I expected.
I have a plan to launch something in 2014 that could be really good, or could fall flat on its face 🙂 Sorry to be vague, but I don’t want to give details yet. I’m both excited and nervous about this.
Joanna Penn says
Hi Russell, it sounds like you’re laying some great groundwork. Establishing your team and processes is exactly what’s needed at the start of the business, and also getting back into print. As for writing “only” one book, that’s what most mainstream authors do, so congrats! Looking forward to your vague idea coming to fruition in 2014!
Linda Maye Adams, Soldier, Storyteller says
This year I made a huge leap in my writing. I’ve spent the last few years wrestling with issues that have both kept me from finishing any novels and also from just missing professional publication. One issue was not trusting my process. I ended up dropping off of my writing message boards and writing blogs because so much of the advice advocates NOT to trust your process, or that you’re doing it wrong. Setting was the second issue. Left to my own devices, I pretty much leave it completely out. The worst part is that if it gets left out, it’s not a matter of simply going back on a revision and adding it. It impacts other parts of the story and creates more changes. Identifying this problem was a huge win, because I actually haven’t been able to see it and I’m learning to spot it.
The result was that I produced 15 stories, 2 of which were accepted (Enchanted Spark and Fabula Argentea) and one that was a runner up in Alfred Hitchcock’s Contest (not published, but that’s a huge win). I also have a non-fiction piece coming out in Red, White, and True, an anthology from University of Nebraska Press. However, I’m having to go back to each of those stories and check for setting. In the later ones, where I got setting and five senses in, I still have misfires on the setting — and they all occur in exactly the same place. I get pieces of the setting threaded throughout the story, but I don’t anchor any setting in the beginning.
In 2014, I’m redrafting the novel I was trying to force setting into (starting it from scratch; not revising it). I’m already seeing changes alone from trusting the process instead of trying to control the process. I have a second novel in the works, and I feel I’m in a position to do a combination of professional submissions and indie this year. My first indie project will be a collection of flash fiction stories set in California. I’d actually like to write fulltime, so this is the start of it. Building the product stock.
Joanna Penn says
That sounds great Linda! Isn’t it funny how our strengths and weaknesses differ from writer to writer? I think my biggest strength is setting, and I often have to rewrite because I fall in love with sense of place and do too much exposition, and I forget that people have to do something and say something and feel something there 🙂
Congrats on your short story success, I want to do more of those too – it’s a way to experiment without committing to the full novel length work.
Adrian Beckingham says
2013 has been a year of many changes for me. Many surprises. I became a first time grandad for one, my son flew the nest, my twin daughter’s moved
schools. Within all this I have brought up my four kids as a single dad for nearly twenty years.
It was in an effort to try to find a job that fitted into the school run and my kid’s needs that I became a storyteller almost two decades ago. Not a writer. A
teller. I will say a little about this, as it it will help define more clearly for you just how remakable a shift has been made in 2013.
Back then when people asked, ” What do you do?” I would reply, “I am a storyteller.”
And they would usually reply, “I meant what do you do for a job?”
I’d say, “I know. I am a storyteller!”
Professional storytelling as an oral artform was worse than on its last legs out there in the community it seemed. People generally barely recognised what the
term meant or entailed. These days I am gladdened to see storytellers abound once more, as this is a truly ancient and magical artform. It’s abilities to inspire
and empower are truly remarkable.
As a storyteller I have visited over 400 schools in the UK over the years, and many of these I have visited over ten times apiece. I have worked as a resident
storyteller in mental health for the charity Mind. And I am told by organisers I was the world’s first storyteller to be booked as such by the world’s largest book
fair, Frankfurt. In the year 2000 I was honored by receiving The Help The Aged Millennium Award for a storytelling project. The Millenium Awards were
distrubuted so that exactly one out of every one million residents in the UK would receive one for services to the community. I got a t-shirt saying One In A
Million and a grant to run a storytelling project. I foucsed on developing a project that engaged and improved relationships between the elderly and teenage
residents of three rural towns.
I have told stories in the British Museum, The Barbican, schools, hospitals, youth offender institutes, youth clubs, fesivals. On hot air balloons flying over
temples of ancient Egypt. To native peoples in the world’s biggest deserts. Atop the Himalayan mountains (where I have set up as chairman an orphanage-
school for Himalayan children).
Aye storytelling has been a diamond of adventure amidst my busy life as a dad.
I have written sporadically. Indeed aged ten my teacher walked into the classroom and told us we were all going to enter a national writing competition. My
effort was the only one in our state to receive recognition, and was awarded a Probus Club Recommendation . As a teenager I wrote many tales of my life on
city streets – despite changes in computer file advancements often almost losing them, I now have these intact and plan to publish them as an anthology in
2014. I have also set up and run youth magazines New Generation and ConnXtion in youth clubs. Done ccasional pieces for magazines.
Then in 2005 my anthology of creation tales from indigenous peoples Stories That Crafted The Earth was launched. This year my first literary acheivement
was turning this into an ebook with smashwords.
Yet this year I too got myself to London Book Fair. It was really because a friend of mine from overseas said he intended to fly over and go there, and would I
like to join him. I made it. He didn’t. I talked to many people. I perhaps met you there? I certainly met with Robin Price the director of indie children’s publisher
Mogzilla. I enjoyed many talks in The Author’s Lounge but missed several in a row I had MOST hoped to see – as I had a three hour meeting with Robin and
walked away with a two book deal.
I guess about a year ago I submitted Mogzilla the written version of a Christmas story I had created and been telling for many years in cafes and grottos (even
London Selfridges one year!). It had always been called The Singing Santa Story and intended as a picture book, though it’s core purpose was as a story to be
told to live audiences as this was my paycheck in everything I did. By the end of that meeting at London Book Fair with Robin, it needed 8,000 words added by
October. But more than this, they were not keen to focus on a new author with a Christmas title, as it has no interest to buyers except from November
onwards, and is dead by February for almost a year. So the second book in the two book deal was actually to be the first book, and this they wanted written
for late summer publication.
Could I write a children’s novel they would except for publication in two months was the question? Mogzilla suggested I write whichever story I think kids most
loved hearing. You see the stories I tell are often 45 minutes long. But no child has ever not remained enchanted thrughout that otherwise long sit on the floor.
I did it in 10 days.Ten glorious days of sunshine and while the kids were at school I wrote in our garden cabin, giving myself breaks of sun lounging on the
kid’s trampoline. I wrote a novel of a tale I know so well. One I have developed through oral storytelling over many years. Mogzilla suggested I write whichever
story I think kids most loved hearing. It is now the kid’s novel The King Of The Things.
The first few hundred copies arrived just in time for my storytelling at Glastonbury Festival. (Glastonbury, the world’s biggest festival of music and performing
arts, have hired me as a storyteller every festival since 1994). From this point on I was being dad, touring festivals and camps. busily signing copies of The
King Of The Things after each performance, and writing the Christmas tale GobDrop & SnowShine – which grew from The Singing Santa story. This second
book was written mainly in my caravan as I toured camps and festivals on my summer storytelling tour And indeed in hospitals as at this time my daughter
gave birth and both she and her lovely newborn son spent many days in intensive care units following heart wrenching complications. To write when the world
is crumbling apart literally, walking the edge of losing something so special as a loved child, required something greater than I. I think all those years
storytelling helped me. .
Yet luck and love and fortitude won through – my daughter and newborn grandchild are happy and well, and GobDrop was indeed in bookshops this Christmas.
An added amazing bonus, a team of local elves – led by an elderly blind seamstress who could not stop saying THANK YOU for her wonderful guidance! –
created me a costume of GobDrop. With this I visited 15 local primary schools storytelling the tale and signing many many books, as part of an anti-bullying
literacy project I created.
Here is GobDrop & SnowShine.
In 2013 I have faced true terror. Become a grandad. Laughed and danced and told tales in glorious sunshine, or below star studded skies around many many
campfires. I have got myself stabled in a great little publishing house. I am walking away from 2013 with some healthy sales, and an offer for two new books to
be written by May 2014. Pen already licked, as it were, raring to go… now into the world of pirate adventure!
Joanna Penn says
Hi Adrian, wow! what a great story – you are a storyteller 🙂 that’s an awesome year indeed, and sorry to have missed you at the London Book Fair – please connect if you go again this year. Congrats on all your success.
I’m pretty sure 2014 is going to be an amazing year for you because you are unstoppable! Thanks to you I found the courage to start now to become an authorpreneur the next year, even when I Am terrified, how ironic is this? The Creative Penn is a constant in my life, makes me feel I’m not alone in this journey. Blessings and Happy New year Joanna!
Joanna Penn says
Hi Amelia, Thank you so much for commenting and your kind words. I am so thrilled to know that I help you on your journey. It means a lot to me, as one of my purposes in life is to encourage creative-entrepreneurship! We’re all terrified, but what would life be without some excitement! All the best for 2014. Thankyou.
Doreen Pendgracs says
I’d thought that 2013 was an extremely hard year for me, and didn’t realize how much I’d accomplished until I looked back and realized that I’d accomplished my 3 major goals: to charter a new Toastmasters club specifically for writers and artists, to obtain my Distinguished Toastmaster award, and to self-publish my chocolate travel book. All 3 achieved, and for 2014, I’ve set a goal of appearing on a national TV show in both Canada and the US. Wish me luck!
Joanna Penn says
Congrats Doreen, that’s amazing! and exactly why I like to write my goals down at the beginning of the year and check up on them periodically 🙂 We can all accomplish a lot more than we think! I’ll see you on the TV in 2014!
Marcia Richards says
My accomplishments in 2013 were small but important for me. The first half of the year I was sorting out a health issue and the second half was devoted to dealing with treatments and becoming stable, health-wise. However, I did revamp my website; learned a lot more about what I’m meant to write and feel I’ve found my voice and just need to work on letting it come through clearly in my writing; participated in NaNo for the first time and learned I’m capable of more than I thought; during NaNo I fast drafted a novel I love and am in the process of editing it. I’m on a roll now and there’s no stopping me. I also found out that online friends can be “real” friends. My group of writer friends have supported me, cheered me, and continue to do so on my journey with cancer.
Congrats on all of your amazing accomplishments, Joanna! It has been a pleasure watching you learn and grow as a writer. I’ve learned so much from your experiences and plan to be right here cheering you on and continuing to learn from you!
Joanna Penn says
Hi Marcia, I’m so glad your health has improved – and at the end of the day, what else do we have if our health is bad. I also sorted out my back pain this year, with a swiss ball 🙂 Nothing like your experience of course, but dealing with our physicality is critical, otherwise we won’t be able to create for the long-term!
Online friends can DEFINITELY be real friends – you guys know me better than my friends and family, to be honest. And I have very good physical friendships now that started on twitter – so I’m so glad you’ve found a network that way too. Thanks for your continued support and all the best for 2014 🙂
Heather Day Gilbert says
I can’t wait to hear about the ins and outs of the joint-venture translation deals! I’d love to get my Viking novel into Norse/Icelandic.
And that was my year–after almost six years seeking a traditional book deal (via agents), I finally bit the bullet and self-published my Viking historical, God’s Daughter. And I am relishing the freedom (though it’s boatloads of hard work), while simultaneously awestruck that I finally have READERS!
Just want to add that your site is one both I and my indie writer peeps constantly refer to–you’re always pointing us to the next step we should take to keep getting our writing out there and moving our careers forward. Hoping you have a great 2014, and thank you for all the info you bring to us, Joanna!
Joanna Penn says
Thanks Heather, and congrats on getting your book into the world! I really think that the first book to ‘go wild’ helps you learn so many things, and a really big one is that you can actually do this, and there’s nothing stopping you!
I’m not planning on tackling the Icelandic market with translation – so I’d love to hear from you if you manage that 🙂
Margarita Morris says
Well done on achieving so many goals Joanna! For me 2013 has been a huge leap forward. This time last year I had no plans to self publish and knew nothing about being an indie author. I now have a YA historical novel out there – Oranges for Christmas – set in Berlin in 1961, a blog and a website. I’m following your site, listening to your podcasts (as I do the ironing!) and looking forward to learning lots more from you in 2014.
Joanna Penn says
Hi Margarita, Congrats on your huge year and the new book! I visited Berlin earlier this year and LOVED it – fully intending to return. I’m glad you enjoy the podcast as well, I think I accompany many household chores!
Mary E.Martin says
Thanks for the opportunity to share. In 2013, I was able to write the third novel in the Trilogy of Remembrance, provisionally entitled “Night Crossing”. This is actually my sixth novel as this trilogy was preceded by The Osgoode Trilogy. My protagonist/friend, Alexander Wainwright, Britain’s finest landscape artist, travels from London to Paris and then onto St. Petersburg in search of his “light” his muse, his art and love. I found that I was unable [or unwilling] to try to combine both first draft fun and the hard work of promotion. So publication and promotion await me in January. But I am constantly making notes and reading. I think I’m looking for themes for a new novel.
Because you have an article on writing, you and your readers might be interested in a book I found by Ray Bradbury “Zen and the Art of Writing which isoneof thevery best I’ve read. I blogged about it today.
Joanna Penn says
Thanks for sharing Mary, and congrats on number 6. I hope to hit that in 2014 as well, but it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier 🙂 I love the Bradbury book too.
Hi Joanna, congratulations on a great year! I eagerly await your post about getting your books translated. That’s something I plan to do (and I’ve also done some work as a translator, so it’ll be interesting to see a perspective from the ‘other side’).
Ross Mountney says
Thanks so much for your inspiration during the year Joanna and congratulations on your achievements. Whilst I was swapping dairies I noticed that at the beginning of last year I resolved to get my mums’ book published and amazingly I achieved that last November! (http://bit.ly/UPkQOx) Your blog has been like a hand to hold. Thank you!