An entrepreneur creates value with their ideas. They create a new reality based on thoughts and actions. That surely is the definition of an author!
You need to be prepared for success, and understanding the fundamentals of business will help you along the way.
In today’s interview, I’m interviewed about my book, Business for Authors, and go through some of the key aspects you need to think about if you want to make a living with your writing.
Sukhi Jutla, serial entrepreneur and start-up founder, fin-tech expert, and new author of Escape the Cubicle interviews Joanna about her book, Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur.
- What does it actually mean to be an author-entrepreneur as opposed to just an author?
- Why business is truly creative
- The key traits of the author-entrepreneur
- Why constant learning and re-starting after failure are so important
- How the journey of the first book differs to the view from book 25. The book as an employee, not as a baby!
- Why serving your audience is the key to a business
- The book as the ultimate scalable product, the power of intellectual property, and creating value from our brains
The different business models for an author-entrepreneur, including fiction and non-fiction books
- The first step to taking your writing from hobby to business
- How to balance your time between creation, marketing and building a business
You can find Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur in ebook, print and audiobook format on all major stores. It’s the only audiobook I narrated if you’re interested in that 🙂
Find Sukhi Jutla at: www.SukhiJ.com
Transcript of the interview
Sukhi: Hi, everyone. I’m Sukhi Jutla, author of “Escape The Cubicle.” And today, I’m interviewing Joanna Penn for The Alliance of Independent Author’s Indie Author Fringe. Welcome, Joanna.
Joanna: How are you, Sukhi? And hi, everybody watching.
Sukhi: Just a little introduction in case you don’t know Joanna, but I’m pretty sure a lot of you do know.
Joanna is an award-nominated “New York Times” and “USA Today” bestselling author of thrillers under J. F. Penn. She also writes inspirational, nonfiction for authors, and is an award-winning creative entrepreneur and international professional speaker.
Her site, thecreativepenn.com, is regularly voted one of the top 10 sites for writers and self-publishers. So today, we’re talking about her book, “Business for Authors: How to Be an Author Entrepreneur.”
Jo, a lot of authors are quite curious about how to bring an entrepreneurial slant to the way they write.
Can you get us started off by telling us what does it actually mean to be an author-entrepreneur, as opposed to just an author, in today’s world?
Joanna: Yes. So it’s one of those questions, and I think many authors feel uncomfortable with the word “entrepreneur.” We have to tackle that head on.
If you think about what an entrepreneur does in the world, what people think, is that they create value from ideas. They come up with an idea and then they create a business around an idea. And that creates value for customers and also income for the entrepreneur themselves.
If you think about it that way, that an entrepreneur creates value out of nothing, out of ideas from the head, then that is exactly what an author does. We have an idea and then we create value, we create a book out of nothing.
And, of course, that’s not worth as much as, say, Facebook in terms of entrepreneurial work, or something like Elon Musk is doing, but we can still be entrepreneurs on a micro level, a micro-entrepreneur.
And then an author always has to be focusing on being an artist, being creative; that part of the brain that isn’t concerned with money and really is just creating something new in the world. We always need to keep that, that’s super important.
But if you want to be an author-entrepreneur, you also have to have the other side going. It’s not left brain, right brain, it’s just more an attitude. You have to take the business just as seriously as the art.
And the other thing about business, some people don’t like the word “business,” but the fact is business is incredibly creative. Business is what gives people jobs, it’s what creates new things in the world, new buildings, new companies. We all know big publishers do marvelous things.
That’s the other thing, is to consider that business is in itself creative to wear the artist hat and the business hat, and also understanding that being an author is a business like any other. We have a product and that product is a book. We have sales and marketing, and we have financials, and we have customers, and we have vendors and all these things that any other business has.
You have to understand that and learn about that stuff if you want to run a business and if you want to make money, a decent amount of money, and if you want to make a living. So really, the author entrepreneur is taking the business side as important as the creative side.
Sukhi: That’s brilliant. And I think you’re spot on, Jo, because with the business, the fundamental about it is about serving. And as an author, we have to think about who are we serving, and it’s essentially our reader.
My next question is what key traits does an author entrepreneur need to have? And the reason I ask that is because if you tell an author that their book is not just a book but it’s a product, sometimes, they get a little bit nervous. They think, “Oh, it in my book. How can it be a product?”
Can you just go a little bit deeper into what are the key traits that an author entrepreneur needs to have?
Joanna: Yes. I think you’re right there. And that’s when you have to separate your creative hat to your business hat because there are many people who use that metaphor of having a book is like having a baby, which I always find really odd because that metaphor might work for 1 or 2 or 3 books, but it doesn’t work when you get to a number 25, which is what I’m writing at the moment.
In a business sense, it’s more healthy to think of your books as employees that go out there and do work for you in the world and bring you money, and business.
In terms of the personality traits in the things you have to be, and what I would also say is everything we’re talking about are things you can learn. I don’t have a degree in business. My first degree is in theology and my second is in psychology. I learned all of this stuff, as you have, over the years.
One of the biggest things for an author entrepreneur is to try new things, to learn new things, and change direction when necessary. And this constant learning, I think, is probably the number one thing that an author entrepreneur needs to have or anyone who wants to create anything new in the world because the world is changing super fast and we have to learn new things along the way in order to take advantage of those and pivot our businesses.
You don’t always have to change direction. I started podcasting in 2009, which is very early. And around 2011, ’12, I thought, “This is a waste of time. I’ve hardly got anyone listening. I think I’ll give it up.”
And then I didn’t give up. I decided to double-down on it, and that was a great decision because my podcast is now the center of my business, for my nonfiction business.
But other times, I’ve changed directions. For example, with translations, I tried self-publishing with translators, and that just didn’t work because I couldn’t market in other languages. So that’s an occasion where I learned something new, I learned about how to do translations, how to work with translators, and then, in the end, it just wasn’t worth it so I pivoted away from that.
The acceptance and learning from failure is really important. For example, changing your book covers is something that is very important for authors to think about over time, and you can’t even imagine that when you publish your first book. You think, “This is the best cover ever and this is the cover that’s gonna sell millions of books.”
And then about six months later, you’re like, “Okay, what is wrong?” I’ve done this several times.
The latest time I did this was with “Risen Gods.” We had a lovely cover. It just wasn’t selling so I looked at the category. We changed the cover, changed some of the blurb, and it started selling a lot more books. And I’ve changed a lot of covers. It’s very common to do that because as indie authors, we often don’t know what the right spin is.
Investing in yourself, investing in your learning, understanding this is a journey and that you can learn along the way and try things, those are all really important attitudes, I think.
And also, another one would be the long-term view. I think that if you look at, again, using someone like Elon Musk, he says we will colonize Mars, we will build things in space. This is a very long-term view of a potential business. It might even be after he dies.
Now, for us, your first book is coming out, and you think, “Okay, I don’t need to make my million dollars in week one.” It can take a bit of time. So that long-term view is really important.
Sukhi: That’s brilliant. And you’re right, because my book’s coming out, and it’s been two years in the making and it’s sort of come to a point where I’m just ready for it to come out to the world. But the funniest thing is I feel like I’ve already moved on from it.
That book was done at a point in time but now as I’ve evolved and my business is changing and my direction is changing, that’s going to change or impact my strategy and how I’m going to build my business based on books now.
Joanna: Well, then I want to ask you, with the first book, because, of course, people are listening to me and I’ve got 24 books, and I’ve been doing this for 11 years now. You’re on your first book but you are a business woman who is running a business as well.
What are you finding with that first book, with the kind of lessons you’ve learned from your entrepreneurial life?
Sukhi: That’s a great question. My first book was focused on how did I make the transition from leaving 10 years of corporate world and moving into creating my own businesses and working for myself, and basically having a lot more freedom and having the life that I wanted.
But I wrote that book two years ago, so now, all my businesses have moved on forward, two years on. So now, I’m looking into different things like rather than showing someone how to escape the cubicle, escape the corporate world, now I’m thinking about how do I educate someone who’s just left that job, and now, they want to build their own business?
What do you start that business in, what things reach out to you? And also, you have to basically, as a business, you have to look externally what’s happening around you.
Right now, we’ve got the sharing economy, we’ve got something called the gig economy such as Airbnb and Uber. Sometimes, you have to start thinking, “How can I offer something that’s going to complement what’s already moving?” As ALLi is talking about blockchain for books, this is a huge new space now as well.
It’s not just about creating a book and putting it on to Amazon or other distribution platforms. As authors, we need to start thinking about how is the entire ecosystem going to change? So now, we can basically be paid in micro payments and we can even be paid by a chapter or a page that’s being read and you’d actually get real money, like a penny or a cent being given to for every page.
Everything is going to be tracked and monitored. So that just makes you start thinking about, “How do you start contributing to that ecosystem,” because what’s going to happen, what you’re building today, it’s got to be ready for launch in a year’s time. You’ve got to have that foresight.
I think that’s why it is really important for authors today, even if they’re not thinking about making millions, if you want to make some sort of income, you do have to start thinking about how are you going to serve these people, and how is the ecosystem on the market going to change, and how are you going to respond to that because that’s essentially what a business is all about.
Joanna: And it’s interesting because you mentioned the gig economy there, and that actually leads us on to thinking about what the author entrepreneur doesn’t just make money from books. I think this is super important because so many people seem to have in their mind that making a living from your writing just involves money from book sales. And that’s actually not true.
And again, as someone who’s got a lot of different income streams, you’re not expecting that one book to bring in enough money that you could just give up everything else, and you probably wouldn’t want to.
I can tell you, realistically, with the 24 books out there, some months, some books bring in $5, and some months, some books bring in $2,500. So the thing is with the book sales, it can be very sporadic.
I found with fiction, for example, it can be very dependent on spike sales, like getting a BookBub, things like that.
With nonfiction, kind of just bump along selling smaller volume but consistent volume over time. And then print books, for example, sell always in December because everyone buys books as gifts or they’re like, “Oh, New Year, I want to write my novel.”
And then thinking about some of the other things that you can do as an author entrepreneur. Many indie authors are offering editing, cover design, website stuff, you know, social media marketing help for authors, virtual assistant stuff for authors. There’s things like sponsorship, people using Patreon, like you said, the micro payments.
There are people who pay $2 a month voluntarily to listen to my podcast, and they don’t need to, it’s free, but they do. And I have lots of those little micro payments.
Then things like freelance writing, speaking, online courses. Authors have always taught things, so whether live in universities or writers’ festivals, and now, they’re teaching online, places like Teachable.
This is another fundamental principle of being an author entrepreneur. Yes, your book is the heart and soul of your business, but expect that you will have to have these different things around the outside, which will feed in different income streams so that over time, you’re not dependent on any one thing. And I think that’s really important for independent authors.
Sukhi: I think you summed up perfectly because as an author entrepreneur, you’re actually very aware of what impacts your business. So like you said, in January and December, you get spike sales in your nonfiction, and especially probably your career change book, because you’re aware that there are people in the market out there who are looking for those things at that particular time.
Using that insight, you could probably do promotions or you could schedule certain things.
I think that’s what it also means to be an author entrepreneur, you’re aware of these influences and external things and you’re thinking to yourself, “How can I take advantage of that?”
Joanna: Yeah. And also drive that in an empowered fashion.
I think that another attitude of the only artist-type author is, “Oh, I’ll just put my book out there and see what happens. People will find it. The quality of the writing will bring people to my book.”
Whereas the author entrepreneur says, “How can I get people to look at my book?” And it doesn’t have to be scammy or sucky. Marketing can be attraction marketing. There are lots of ways to get eyeballs on your book.
That attitude of “I can impact my book sales by actively choosing to do things,” that’s very important. And I think again, it’s not being afraid of failure. Trying to get a BookBub and then not getting one is better than not trying to get one.
I’ve been looking at the 404s on my website, which are failed links, if people don’t realize that. My web site, The Creative Penn, started in 2008. So what I see over time is, of course, someone who might have come on my podcast in 2010, their website might have disappeared, so I have a broken link.
I’m going back and deleting these and going, “Wow, these people have changed direction, done other things,” and that’s fine, but it’s just that realization that we have to keep updating things, keep learning things, keep changing things, keep trying. I think that that’s really important.
Sukhi: Brilliant. Every business has to have a strategy and author entrepreneur is no different.
Can you explain how are books the ultimate scalable product? Because for a business to be successful, it does have to be scalable. And authors are producing books that can be scalable. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Joanna: Yeah, sure. We mentioned the multiple streams of income. And it is important to think about assets versus cash flow.
So on the cash flow, things like consulting, hourly consulting is a cash flow thing because you do it once, you do an hour’s work, you get paid for that hour, or editing, you get paid to edit that book. And then that’s it, you can never earn that time again, you can never earn that money again, your time is gone.
Whereas a book and scalable income is all about creating it once. So let’s say you spend 100 hours on your book. For some people, it’s more, some people, it’s less. Let’s say 100 hours. That 100 hours, you create an intellectual property asset that you can license and sell for the rest of your life and 70 years after you die, which is very, very cool.
Now, it may be that that 100 hours is a waste because no one ever buys your book. But it may be that that 100 hours creates an asset that makes you thousands, maybe tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of pounds and dollars over time. And that’s absolutely fascinating.
The other thing is you can, in that book, you can do other things. Nonfiction authors, particularly, can put links in their book that go back to their website and they can upsell different courses or products. A lot of authors now will have a book on a topic and then a course, and the book might be $10 and the course might be $200, or $300, $500.
You can earn more scalable income from the book. And, of course, once you’ve created that book, you can put it on all the different platforms. You can put it in different formats like e-book, print, audio book. And then as people come into your ecosystem, it’s like that 100 hours suddenly multiplies again and again as people find your book.
When the penny drops on scalable income, it can change your life. For me, this happened around 2008, ’09-ish, and I just went, “Oh my goodness, I’ve spent all this time.”
At that point, I had one day job and 100% of my income came from my hourly rate at a day job. So if I didn’t go to work, I didn’t get paid because I was a freelancer. But if you have a salary, people listening, you might skip a few days but you still have to go to work or you won’t get paid.
But with books, there’s this wonderful moment when you realize that you could step away and the books will keep earning you money, which is just miraculous when you think about it. So thinking about the book as a product for customers but also as a scalable intellectual property asset is just magical.
And then, of course, you can turn that book into courses, as we said, but also speaking. So you can take that information and turn it into other things, you can license it in so many ways. Intellectual property is just fascinating. I’m sure there’s going to be more on the Fringe about that.
I challenge everyone listening, think about what percentage of your income right now comes from time-based sources, so where you spend your time once and you get paid once and that’s it, and what percentage comes from scalable income, as in that which can go much further than you personally.
When I first started, look at that, as I said, it was 100% non-scalable. And now, my income is probably around 90% scalable. I do you very little speaking or specific time-based stuff anymore. Most of what I do is about creating assets that give me scalable income over time.
And I would just add, on fiction, many people get more ideas about making money with nonfiction, but fiction is amazing because you never have to update it.
Nonfiction books, like you said, you feel like your book is out of date because of your life. But with fiction, when you write a story, it never goes out of date. So even if you change or the world changes, people still want stories.
Whereas non-fiction books, you will have to update them at some point. For example, “How To Market A Book,” it’s the third edition, I’ve had to write it three times. So it’s not entirely scalable. I’ve had to put more time into it to keep it selling.
Whereas my novels, I hit the “USA Today” list last year with books I wrote in 2011, 2012. And that could keep happening. So those are some things to think about in terms of scalable.
Sukhi: That’s really important that you mention the differences between fiction and nonfiction, because that in itself is almost like a business strategy.
As an author entrepreneur, you can actually ask yourself, “Which path am I going to go down. If I’m going to go down fiction, I know that’s going to be way more scalable than writing nonfiction, or if I do nonfiction, because that’s where my strength is, then I need to be aware that I need to basically go back and update those on a periodic basis.”
It’s about making those choices and knowing what the impact is going to be.
Joanna: Yeah, and it’s something I really didn’t realize at the beginning. I did start by writing nonfiction. I thought that’s all I could do, and I know that with your first book on career changes, you’re kind of where I was then. I was almost like, “Oh, wait, I won’t write fiction, it’s not something I do,” and then after a time, I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna give this a go,” and then I was like, “Oh, I love this.”
But it’s very interesting because a lot of fiction won’t make any money at all. Like it really, it will be, it really might not sell much at all. Whereas nonfiction, if you write a book that answers someone’s problem, you are quite likely to sell some books. It’s much easier to do SEO, search engine optimization, around your book title.
For example, in my book, “Career Change,” people buy it because they search for career change. But it’s much harder to sell fiction and market fiction. But I see fiction it’s more like almost a lottery ticket because if people do find a novel that they love, they will fall in love with it, they’ll tell their friends, they’ll buy the whole backlist.
If you can turn that into a movie or TV or gaming rights or merchandise. The “Forbes” richest authors in the world are all fiction authors. So this is the interesting thing. On the one hand, you’ve got the poor author in the garret who often writes fiction and the nonfiction authors have the speaking and the consulting and all that.
But the fiction authors can be the ones who change society, and are the ones everyone’s talking about, the stories that everyone’s talking about. Like “Game of Thrones,” how big is “Game of Thrones” in the sort of cultural collective? So, these are some things to think about when you’re considering what do you want your business to be.
When people say to me, “Which would you give up, would you give up fiction or nonfiction,” and I’m like, “Well, I’m not giving up either,” because they play such different parts in my business but also in my creative life. That’s really important.
Sukhi: Building on from that question, what are the different types of author businesses that an author can actually put into place?
Joanna: Business models is probably the way to put it in that there are some authors who put out masses of books. So that’s one business model. I would call it brute force or a huge production business model. These are the authors who might put out a book a month and they might be shorter books or they might not actually be. There are a lot of people who write longer books and they’re putting out a book a month, and they focus their entire time on writing. And this is very encouraging, I think, to people who don’t want to do a lot of the other stuff.
For example, you don’t need to do YouTube, you don’t need to do podcasting, you don’t need to do blogging, you don’t need to do speaking, you can just sit at your desk and write books that people want. That’s a very important part of the business model.
And most authors who are doing this kind of high-volume production are writing genre fiction, so romance, sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, crime to a point, erotica, those bigger genres where there are readers who just devour it. So that high-volume production is one option.
And then the second main option is sort of what I have, which is, yes, the books of the center of the business, as we said, but there are other things that bring in income. I have just written my second novel this year. For some people, that might be fast, but it’s not in terms of the indie world.
I don’t have this fast-production style of writing. I have to do other things. So I do marketing and other stuff around my books, but I also make money from my website, from the podcast, etc.
Those are the two main business models. And then, I guess if you’re purely nonfiction, many nonfiction authors will just have book as business card and that will lead into consulting or speaking. Those are the main things that a nonfiction author might do.
I think the main thing to tell people is when you’re thinking about wanting to make a living as an author or wanting to be an author entrepreneur, what is the life, what do you want your life to look like?
Do you want to spend your time only writing? And for me, that’s not enough. I like to help people and talk to people.
Or do you want to be a speaker? And then find somebody who is already making a living that way and model what they do and really consider, “How are they making a living?” For example, many bestselling literary authors will make more of their income from teaching. They might teach at a university or do speaking events, that type of thing.
Really look at how do people actually make a living, and if you can’t work out, then they might have another form of income. I know someone, for example, who made a lot of money and sold his internet company about six years ago, and then he decided to become an author, and he’s financially independent. So you’ll need to consider his business model.
Those are really important things to look at; how do other people make their money and how can you model that?
Sukhi: That’s wonderful, Jo. And I think as with every business out there, you always have to think about the end game.
If you’re not happy doing public speaking, then it is probably best not to focus just on nonfiction and just having the one book. You do have to think about all those different things as well. Okay, great.
How does an author entrepreneur spend their time? What other aspects of running a business that go beyond just the writing?
Joanna: I think this is really important. When I did have a day job, it’s really important, everyone knows. The first four years of my five years, in fact, of my author life, I had a day job.
In the morning, I would get up and write before work, and then in the evening, I would work on my author platform, my website, my podcast, blogging, that type of thing. And then at the weekends, I would work half on writing, half on the other stuff.
Now, I’m full time but I still try and keep that balance. I try and do my creation time in the morning. I’m at the cafe around the corner and I do my writing between 7:00 and 10:00 a.m. in the morning before I then go and do some exercise, and then I come back and I do business stuff.
That list of business stuff is never-ending, and if you just try to stay on top of all the business tasks, you’ll never do any writing. So you have to look at things like, because we’re publishers, there are publishing tasks around, when you’re ready to do a book, you’ll be formatting, you’ll be actually on the website, the publishing website.
Then the marketing tasks, so for example, doing podcasts. This conversation is marketing. It brings people into all our sphere of influence, as such. I do a lot of these interviews. I actually really like podcasting in audio and video as a form of marketing.
I might be writing blog post, I might be scheduling things on social media. And then with the business, I’ll be looking at things like advertising, looking at my accounts, paying bills, working with freelancers. I have a team of freelancers I work with.
All those different things go into running a business. And that’s something that many people listening may or may not get excited about, and I understand that because there’s this kind of myth that the author just gets to sit in their room and write. And then if you get a publishing deal, someone else does all the rest of the stuff.
But I have a lot of author friends who are traditionally published, who don’t run a business in the same way as I do in that they don’t have to. They don’t necessarily do their own marketing on the advertising side or whatever. But they all do the things that the publisher wants them to do.
For example, they speak at festivals, they have to do guest blog tours, they have to go and do chats with bloggers, and they have to do giveaways, and they have to be at events and things.
However you are published, you will have to do a number of these things as part of your author life. And then even if you have an agent and a publisher, you still should be looking at the money side. You shouldn’t just accept that you get five grand in your bank account. You need to look at your statements and think about how you might sell more.
And as an indie, I look at my bank statement and I go, “Okay, so that’s good, there’s some money coming in there.” Or last year, I was like, “Why aren’t I selling any more of those books on iBooks,” and then I followed up with them, “How can I do that?”
It’s staying on top of the business side as well as the creative side. And it is difficult, and what I would say to people is that’s why splitting your time is so important.
I talked to an author recently who just felt overwhelmed, and everything was out of control. And I said, “Okay, get your phone and get Google Calendar or whatever calendar you use, and schedule time for recreation.” So they just think, “All right, when I have a moment.”
I have in my schedule, and between 7:00am and 9:30am is J. F. Penn time. That’s my recreation time. And then in the afternoon, I have this type of thing.
That is my number one tip for time; make sure you separate that creative head and that business head so you can do both.
Sukhi: That’s brilliant, because there might be some authors out there who think they’re not entrepreneurs. But if you’ve sold a book and you haven’t been paid, you would still want to follow up on that. So that even something as small as that shows that you are thinking like an entrepreneur because you’ve sold something, you’ve given away something for a value and you need to be compensated for it.
Even the smallest things, like just following up with invoices, is a business attitude to have.
Joanna: Yeah. And, of course, we all learn this stuff along the way, right?
I wasn’t born knowing how to podcast or knowing how to write or knowing how to look at my accounts. We have to learn these things along the way. And that’s what’s nice about the author journey.
And in a way, it’s difficult because the first book, you’re like, “Yay, I’m gonna make a million dollars. Everything’s gonna be amazing.” And then it might not be.
But what’s good is the lessons you learn from that first book, you can put into the next book or into the rest of your author business. I would say that coming back to the attitude of learning, and you can learn to be a business person as much as you can learn to be an author. So those are both important.
Sukhi: I completely agree. When I started running my own businesses, I didn’t know how to set up a company, I didn’t know how to look for an accountant. But these things come in time.
It’s about having that attitude of learning and giving it a go.
My next question, Jo, is most authors might struggle with the concept of claiming the word “entrepreneur.”
What’s the simplest step an author can take to start running an author business?
Joanna: Yes, because some of these things sound kind of huge.
I think the first thing is to make a decision. We talked a bit about mindset but it’s really making a decision, “I am going to be serious about this as a business. This is not a hobby.”
One of the differences between a hobby and something you’re taking more seriously is separating the financials. The first step is changing your mindset. It’s going, “Right, I am not going to be the average author who sells less than 500 copies. I am going to do this and make a go of it.”
And then the second one would actually be setting up a separate bank account. Now, you do not need to incorporate, you do not need to set up a company, you do not need to do any of that. But if you set up a separate bank account within your existing bank, it can still just be under your name but call it your business, your author business account or something like that.
From the bank’s perspective, it’s just another account, it doesn’t have to be a business account. Then the first thing to do would be to fund it because this is no longer a hobby. We generally pour money into our hobbies but without expecting any return, whereas with the book, yes, you are going to invest in your business.
So your initial money, you might put in some money for editing or for cover design. And then you will expect that there will be income from that, so you set up your publishing accounts. If you’ve got a publishing deal, then you tell your agent, “This is the bank account number for the money that will come back.”
So then, that separates, and you can start seeing, “Okay, so I you see that I’ve paid for that or I’ve paid for that course, how am I going to make that money back?”
And then that’s the step to be mindful of where the money is coming in and going out. And that’s kind of the essence of a business because as we both know, a business will die if it doesn’t have cash flow. Your profit might be nonexistent or negative for the first couple of years as you’re investing in your business.
And then, you will expect money to come back and the money will be coming back but then you’ll be spending it. And then at some point, that money will start being more than you expect, and at some point, it will be more than what you can earn in your day job.
And for me, I left my day job in 2011. I started publishing and writing in 2006. I left my day job in 2011. And in 2015, I started making six figures in pounds. And now, I make multi six figures in pounds. That’s after 11 years.
So let’s face it, it’s not that fast, but it’s a fantastic life. But the very first step was taking that seriously and making that first $10 or making that first $1 online and then seeing that in a kind of separate bank account. And then, you know, it’s not a hobby, it’s a fledgling business, and everyone knows the statistics.
Most businesses fail in the first five years. But if you can make it past the five-year mark of investing in your author business, and learning, and growing, you may have a very sustainable long-term author business, and that’s exciting.
Sukhi: That’s brilliant. Just listening to that makes me feel so excited as wel, because there’s so many opportunities.
The first step you just need to take is that mindset shift and just saying, “I’m not going to be a poor author. I want to sell X amount of books, and just knowing that I can do it and I can start with taking the smaller step.”
Joanna: I think we live in the most exciting time to be a writer. There are so many opportunities.
You and I both know the global potential of selling over the internet in a world where the internet is reaching more and more people all the time. As you mentioned, micro payments and selling in places that we haven’t even considered yet. The digital market is very mature in the U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia, but the rest of the world, we’ve barely even started yet.
So I think we really are, as Jeff Bezos from Amazon would say, day one, every day, day one of the new economy. I think now is a fantastic time and a much easier time to be an author entrepreneur.
I really encourage people listening, if you want to take this seriously, and make a living with your writing, it really is possible. So, yeah, give it a go.
Sukhi: Thanks so much, Jo, for your time. Can you please tell everyone where they can find you and your books?
Joanna: You can find out more at thecreativepenn.com, and that’s Penn with a double N. And you can get the “Author 2.0 Blueprint,” which is free, and all my books, “Business For Authors,” “How To Make A Living With Your Writing,” all of the books, and everything. On twitter, @thecreativepenn.
Sukhi: That was great. Thanks so much, Jo.