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is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date.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
After wrestling with letting go of self-censorship in 2014, I am ready to embrace the ups and downs of the creative process in 2015. As Dean Wesley Smith says, “Dare to be bad,” and something good will come out of it!
I feel as if my basic process and business model is now (finally) set, and now all I have to do is repeat it in order to develop my craft and grow the business. This is the magic of intellectual property!
Essentially, the model is: trust emergence and continue to feed the muse in order to write (which for me involves travel and research), turn those ideas into books, turn that one book into multiple products, distribute globally and reach readers through marketing, and then repeat.
Oh yes, and have a great life along the way!
That's important, as if you're not loving this, then you're better off getting a ‘real' job. No one said this was easy after all, and there are much easier ways of making a living. But if you love it, there's no better life!
I find all the aspects of being indie fun, so my focus now is more on creativity and the craft of writing to make the books better, and speeding up the various parts of the process, while still enjoying the journey. Here's how that translates into my goals for 2015.
This is what it's all about! I measure my life by what I create now and although this is a list of ‘production,' my focus this year will be on deepening creative practice as well. That's just not so measurable, and goals generally need to be measurable 🙂
- 6 books out in 2015. A combination of novels, novellas and non-fiction, all in ebook, print and audiobook formats. Three more ARKANE books, Deviance in the London Psychic series plus a minor character spinoff and two books in a new supernatural series. This should turn into 18+ products once each book is turned into the various formats.
- Narrate my own non-fiction audiobooks and publish them on Audible. I'm also looking at doing royalty split deals with other non-fiction authors and getting into ACX as a narrator as well as an author. Like anyone, I used to hate my voice, but after 4 years of podcasting, I am pretty used to it now and I get so many emails from people who like to listen to it. Narration of other people's non-fiction books on a royalty split deal will add another income stream as well, so I will announce availability after I get my own 4 non-fiction books done first.
- Translations: While this is not a primary focus, I do have Portuguese underway for Pentecost as Brazil is likely to be the next emerging market for digital. I also have How to Market a Book coming in German, as well as Prophecy and Desecration in Spanish, so I'm certainly carrying on, but not expanding too much. I am only one person and it showed this year! I will be doing a review of the translation stuff with sales data in Feb/March once I have a bit more historical information.
- Foreign rights. I actually want to sell more rights rather than exploit them myself. The translation stuff takes a lot more effort than expected, so I won't be doing so much of that in 2015. I have various things bubbling around foreign rights sales, and expect to get into this more in 2015.
Filling the creative well, education and creative habits
- Learn how to edit audiobooks for Audible/ACX quality in order to produce my own non-fiction audiobooks. See the interview with Simon Whistler for help on this and his great book, Audiobooks for Indies
- Go to the Robert McKee Genre & TV writing days in London, Fall 2015 for more story focus. I learned so much from McKee's STORY conference that I am keen to build on that.
- Continue to do courses by Dean Wesley Smith & Kris Rusch to improve my craft and writing business – you can find out more on them here.
- Travel more for research and fun! Traveling feeds my muse and gives me story ideas for my fiction, so I need more of it in 2015 …
I also feel that I need to change up my creative routines and habits:
- No apps or email before lunchtime. I've had over a year of not using email on my phone – but I have ended up checking other things e.g. Guardian app for news, Twitter, RSS feeds and other things. I sometimes check it in the morning when I am still in bed as I use my phone as an alarm. It's hard to resist “just checking a few things”! I have bought an old-fashioned alarm clock – shock horror, it only tells the time and has an alarm function with one ring tone! The mornings are for creativity, writing first draft stuff, walking with my husband and I'm also starting with Headspace for (once again) attempting to incorporate meditation in my life.
- Continue to blog and podcast at The Creative Penn for another year, as well as continuing to share useful information on Twitter @thecreativepenn. My aim is to provide graduate level education and inspiration for the indie author community. I'm not going anywhere so I hope you'll stick around for another year 🙂
- I'm also intending to do more Q&A videos, so check out my YouTube channel here if you like vids.
- I'll continue to try and answer all my email, but I won't be answering basic questions like “how do I self-publish” and “how can I sell more books,” as I have all the free resources here to help people. If you have a more nuanced question, feel free to contact me!
- Be an active member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, co-hosting the monthly Q&A show with Orna Ross and contributing to the discussion, promoting quality in the indie community.
- Be an active member of International Thriller Writers, writing for the Big Thrill and organizing UK events
The big change for me in 2015 is the shift away from online education and courses to income from books and live professional speaking, as well as affiliate income and sponsorship. Fiction is evergreen and never needs updating (and super fun!) – whereas I have found that courses constantly need updates and non-fiction needs at least annual updates. There are also pretty much zero customer service issues with fiction! (I'm not counting fan email which is a pleasure, not ‘service')
I was intending to withdraw my courses in 2015 anyway, but the EU VAT law change for digital products pushed me to do this by Dec 31 2014, so that income stream is now over. I need to replace it, as that has been a significant portion since I left the day job. I'm not writing off doing online education again, but it's not a priority.
- Ramp up diversified income streams for my books. I'm already publishing direct on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and NOOKPress. I am just returning to publishing through Smashwords for subscription and other minor sites. I'm finally going to get into Google Play in early 2015. Financially, I want to have my first 5 figure month in 2015. That's a stretch goal but I am putting it out there 🙂
- Move into audiobook narration for my own non-fiction as well as other people's books. The royalty split options in ACX mean this is potentially a good ongoing income stream and I believe in audio as a growth market. This will be a new income stream, albeit a slow growing one.
- Continue to speak internationally for travel and income reasons. I've already been booked for PubSense in Charleston, South Carolina in March, as well as the Shetland Islands and Orkney, which must count as travel! You can find my speaking page here if you want to see me live or book me for an event.