How do you find the time to write when you have a busy family life? How do you stay creative while still managing to run a successful business? Andrea Pearson shares her productivity tips in today's show.
In the introduction, I share my Voice Double from Descript‘s beta. Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Plus, my NaNoSloMo progress and why I might just write another book instead. Google Earth storytelling tools [Google blog].
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Today's show is sponsored by IngramSpark, who I use to print and distribute my print-on-demand books to 39,000 retailers including independent bookstores, schools and universities, libraries and more.
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Andrea Pearson has published 60 books under 3 pen-names including four books on marketing for authors. She is the co-host of the Self-Publish Strong Podcast with her husband, Nolan, and also the co-host of the Six-Figure Author Podcast with Lindsay Buroker and Joe Lallo — and she has 3 young children who she home-schools.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and full transcript below.
- How Andrea juggles home-schooling children, writing, a new baby, and life
- The advantages of dictation when writing first drafts
- Outlining and using visual aids to help with dictation
- Practical tools for managing a family’s schedule
- What drew Andrea to podcasting and how she co-hosts three shows
- Working with family members, including spouses
- Going beyond books to licensing ideas
You can find Andrea Pearson at SelfPublishStrong.com and on Twitter @andreapearson2
Transcript of Interview with Andrea Pearson
Joanna Penn: Welcome to the show, Andrea.
Andrea Pearson: Thank you. It's nice to be here.
Joanna Penn: We only saw each other last week in Vegas.
Andrea Pearson: Do you miss me yet?
Joanna Penn: Absolutely. I wanted to get started because you've done incredible things since you started writing, but I'm interested in your background.
How did you get into writing and indie publishing?
Andrea Pearson: I didn't grow up wanting to be an author. That's one thing I like to tell people just because I've met a whole bunch of people that did, and they're like, am I screwed? I'm like, no, you're not.
Growing up, I actually focused on art and medical things. My degree is in the medical field, and I'm not like a doctor, but I focused on art and medical things, which actually ended up helping quite a bit with my books.
I started writing when I was in college. I wrote my first book while I was working three jobs, including a full time one, and taking the maximum number of credits at my university. And I was absolutely stressed to the max, but it was my outlet. It was the only outlet I had at the time. I wasn't dating anybody.
I focused on writing any time I wasn't doing anything else. And luckily, my full-time job allowed me to do side projects when there wasn't anything going on, and so I was able to write here and there while at work and I ended up dedicating that first book to my boss because they were so involved.
When I finished it, I was determined. But I was dismayed to find out that once you finish writing, it doesn't mean that’s the end. You actually have to go and work on revising.
I had a lot of people tell me that that first book would never get published. And I was like, that's inconceivable. I will not accept that. And so, I rewrote it multiple times just because I wanted to make sure it was okay for readers, I ended up putting up on Authonomy. Do you remember Authonomy?
Joanna Penn: Yes. It was kind of like WattPad.
Andrea Pearson: Pretty much. So, they're run by Harper Collins. And my book moved up really quickly and I found an agent that way, and that agent got me contracts and they had an auction for a movie between a couple of the bigger studios, but nothing felt right.
I was a paralegal in one of my former lives. I ended up turning down all the contracts, including one with the publishers of Twilight. And a lot of people thought I was insane. But when I read those contracts, I was like, this is asinine. Who would sign this? I had no idea that that was the way it was. But I was a paralegal and I did not grow up wanting to be an author, and so I didn't know anything about what the contracts were like, you know?
And so, I ended up signing with a small press publisher and that was a good idea. It was a good and a bad idea. It was good because it gave me some footing. I found my editor through them and a typesetter and I was introduced to the local publishing community.
But I left them a year later, 10 days after my husband and I got married. And I've been self-publishing ever since and I've absolutely loved it.
I still use that same editor from that publisher. She left them around the same time I did. The publisher actually folded three months later. They never published any of my books, but like I said, they got me into the traditional publishing world. So, I made a lot of contacts in the traditional publishing world, and I'm still friends with a bunch of those authors now.
Anyway, so now I'm an indie author. I teach other people how to do this, and I absolutely love it. It's a lot of fun.
Joanna Penn: Fantastic. And it's interesting because of course, you always seem to have juggled a lot of things in all of your jobs. This is why I really wanted to talk to you because as we have discussed, I am very happily child-free, and people ask me how I get stuff done.
You have 60 books of various different lengths, and you have three children who you homeschool, you have a new baby, who as we talk is sick.
How do you juggle all of these things practically, but also without damaging your mindset as well? How is your mental health?
Andrea Pearson: How is my mental health? I don't know. You saw me last week.
Joanna Penn: You were fine. Are you just paddling like crazy under the surface? How do you do it?
Andrea Pearson: I’ve found that because I'm such a schedule-oriented person, I work better when I'm busy.
There’s that saying, if you want something done, give it to a busy person. I've actually become more productive since having kids. I think I wrote one or two, maybe three books before I had my first. I look back at that former self and I shake my head. What the heck? You had so much time.
I treat my time like the valuable resource that it is. And so, it's actually helped me be more productive since having kids. But I found that systems, schedules, those kinds of things really helped me. And since we've been homeschooling since the beginning, so it's not like I'm used to having my kids go to school. I'm not used to having that free time. And so that hasn't had been something that we had to adjust to.
I don't run a tight ship. I do like having things set in place that I follow in the same order pretty much every day. I'll just talk about that really quickly.
The baby isn't sleeping through the night right now. And so, I don't wake up before the kids get up. When he's sleeping through the night again, and when I do have a baby that sleeps in the night, I usually get up an hour and a half before the kids get up, so I can get in some extra work time, but that's not happening now cause I don't do well without sleep.
And so, I get up, we get dressed, we do food, we do homeschool. The baby takes a nap, and then I work for an hour to two hours, depending on how long he naps. And, because I do dictate, I have found that I'm able to plow through books pretty quickly. When I'm in the revision stage it usually takes a little bit more time.
But, dinner, cleaning, things like that, I do throughout the day. My husband's working right now, and we do have people come and help with cleaning about once a week, sometimes just once a month, depending on how insane life is. And my husband does a whole ton. I can't ever thank him enough; he helps with cooking and cleaning and things like that and just taking care of the kids.
If I don't have a good system set in place, if I don't have a good schedule, if I don't get a lot of sleep the night before, like last night I only got about two hours of sleep. And so, I just take that day at my pace, whatever pace I'm most comfortable at, and I make sure I'm doing something productive.
And I know authors, I mean everybody's going to know that there are certain levels of brain activity that you need to have in order to do certain projects and certain things. And so, I just focus on those lower-level things that aren't as stressful because I know that once I'm back to my mental peak, I can actually be much, much faster and more productive when it comes to writing and revision.
I'm not a daily maintenance person. I can't write every single day. I've never been able to do that. I would love to be able to do it, but I can't. I do things in projects, and in stages here and there.
We also have a local store that has this really nice lounge with chairs and things like that. I'll go there and work for a couple of hours. And then about two times a week I have an assistant. I work after the kids go to bed. But again, I try to get to bed by nine o'clock at night because my baby is waking up. And like I said, my husband does take over quite a bit. So, it's not just me.
Joanna Penn: One of the biggest questions of course, is how do I find the time to write? And with your life, you're still finding time. So just on the schedule, you mentioned there are few hours.
How do you manage actually that schedule? I use Google calendar for example and things like Calendly. We booked this on Calendly an app for booking time.
Do you actually do it like that? Do you have a calendar on the wall? To manage you and your husband and three children as well with their various play dates and other things…
How do you manage your schedule on a practical level?
Andrea Pearson: I have several systems depending on which phase of the child I'm working with. So right now, the kids are younger, so we don't spend a lot of time in my office.
My kids generally will play around me and they're very content. I've raised them to be super independent. And so, I don't play with them. I play with them once a day, and then I'm like, nope, this is how my mom raised me. You're going to be independent.
Joanna Penn: Mine too.
Andrea Pearson: They don't rely on me for their entertainment and so they'll play around me. But in my office, I've got a dry erase board and I go by weekly schedules.
I don't go daily because daily is too hard to predict with kids. But if I go weekly, there's almost always a day or two where I can knock out pretty much all of my To Do list. And so, I keep on my dry erase board.
I'm looking at it right now. I've got writing and publishing and a list of stuff I want under there. I've got business. And so, business would be if I need to buy stock photos or email and things like that. And then I've got personal and so, and then I just move them along to the, down to the section where I'm currently working on them or the done part of my dry erase board.
If I'm down in the living area, I've got a calendar set up on my fridge. It's not a month to month and a day to day calendar. It's just a list of the current books I'm working on and what days I need to actually have started the revision process or the outlining process or the dictating process.
I do that a lot. I also keep those kinds of things on my phone. I use a Galaxy Note 8 and I know it's not the latest version of the notes, but it works, and I use that stylus pen quite a bit. I'll like screenshot the calendar and then I know later versions you can actually write on the calendar, but I'll sit and outline on my phone what times I need to do things and when I need to have them done.
I'm a huge fan of To Do lists. I love the process of actually physically writing. I've found that using it on the computer takes away that part of the brain that it gets engaged for me. And so, I've found that writing on the dry erase board or writing on pieces of paper or writing on my phone or whatever, that helps cement it into my brain.
Occasionally I'll buy those big calendars, the really massive ones and I'll keep that by my desk and then I'll work ahead and then I'll put down again the same things. Like when do I need to start dictating to get the book done in time?
When do I need to start revisions and things like that. When is it due to my editor?
I think a lot of authors are the same. We're obsessed with papers and pen. And so, if I have multicolor paper and pens available, then I'm able to be more productive for some reason. I don't know why, but it's just that creative side of my brain in the outlining and working the more tedious part of the process.
Joanna Penn: A couple of points there. Obviously, you get a lot done, but you are spending some time shuttling and planning to get stuff done as opposed to you're not just going maybe I'll get up tomorrow and have a bit of time to write and maybe I'll do something. I might make it up at the time.
You’re planning your time in a pretty hardcore way.
Andrea Pearson: Yes. Like I said, it's the week-to-week. My baby has the flu right now, so I can't say on this date I have to do this because I'm not going to make it.
But I am pretty strict when it comes to the weeks. And my husband is 100%, a bajillion percent on board. And so, he's very supportive of this. He'll frequently come home from work and say, Hey, what do you need done and what do you need me to do? And things like that. And so that helps a lot.
But if I don't schedule, if I'm not at least a little bit of a schedule Nazi, if I don't value my business time, then nothing gets done because know what, it's like you run a house. There's so much that can be done all the time in our house.
We built this house. It's only a year and a half old, but still, there's so many projects that need to be done. And so, if I'm not careful, if I don't schedule it, if I don't have things written down where I can see them visually as a reminder, like I said on the fridge, or on my office wall, then things just don't happen.
Joanna Penn: I get it. I'm a scheduler. I like to do lists. I do all these things too. I think you have to have these things. This is really important, people. You cannot keep everything in your brain. You just can't.
Andrea Pearson: You’re not in junior high anymore. Your brain does not have that elasticity any longer.
Joanna Penn: I think we expand our life, and especially as independent authors, it's not just the writing, there's the publishing tasks, the marketing tasks, the business stuff, everything. And each book is in a different stage of what's happening.
I was writing this morning, going to the cafe and doing novels. This afternoon, I've got three German books coming out tomorrow and I did some audiobook publishing for another book. So, it's like three projects at the same time at different phases of project management.
And that's what we are, isn't it?
We have to be creative, but also a project manager.
Andrea Pearson: Yes. Definitely.
Joanna Penn: Fantastic. Let's talk about dictation because you seem to have cracked the code on dictation. I listen to you and think I want to be like Andrea.
How does the dictation and writing process work for you? Explain that first because your speed is incredible.
Andrea Pearson: I'm pretty fast at dictating, but if I don't have things set up first, then I'm very slow at dictating.
What I have to do is I brainstorm for a while the series, and sometimes that'll be like five hours, and sometimes that's five minutes. Because if you're on contract, you can't just not brainstorm a series. You actually have to produce something.
If I have lots of time, I just let it germinate in the background while I'm working on other things. But if I don't have a lot of time, I actually have to force myself.
And the way I do that is I go for walks; movement equals productivity for me and a lot of people. I chew on sugar-free gum, if that helps. I outline. I'm not huge into outlining anymore. In the beginning I used to do 50,000-word outlines.
Joanna Penn: That's a novella.
Andrea Pearson: It is it pretty much is.
I know there's other authors who do it that way, and that's kind of how I used to have to do it because I didn't trust myself when I actually started writing that I would know how to do it. When I was outlining, I would write down things that occurred to me, now that I'm dictating, and now that I've written, 60 whatever books, I trust myself.
I know that once I get into the dictating process, I'll still have the same brain and the same creativity. And so, my outlines aren't very extensive anymore. I usually just do a bullet point for a scene and I try to aim for between 25 and 50 bullet points that'll make up about a 50 to 60,000-word book.
I'm not huge into description. My books are pretty fast-moving and they're very plot-heavy, but not a lot of description. And so, I have to make sure that my outline has enough scenes under each bullet point. Otherwise I get stuck in the dictating process when I realize I'm not going to make my goals.
After I do all of that, and it usually takes me about a day, sometimes two days, to outline a full novel. Now I dictate it. The reason I started dictating was because I was forced to, I broke a finger and it tore ligaments. And I still have a hard time typing. It's been three or four years now, and it still hurts to type if I do it for a long time. And so, I had to dictate.
I was one of those forced to dictate type people. And now that I do what, I absolutely love it.
The revisions when you're dictating, depending on how good your setup is, they can be pretty difficult to get through. In the beginning, that was the case with me. My dictations are usually 90 to 95% correct. But there's that 5 to 10% that really throws me sometimes. And so, it takes me a long time to revise.
What I ended up doing, and this is how I have it worked up now, I emailed my list and I asked for volunteers and I said, Hey, I'm willing to pay somebody $50 per manuscript to go through what I've dictated and make it sound like English.
Because one of the things about me is I stutter a bit when I'm thinking, and if I don't know where I'm going ahead of time, I'll, I'll, I'll do this, I'll do this, I'll do this, like that. And so, I tried to figure out exactly what I'm saying, but when I'm dictating, I don't always have that luxury.
I had 200 people respond back saying they wanted to do it, and I ended up going with somebody who has read every single book I've written and she's paid for every single book I've written, and she knows my universe inside and out, and so she goes through and she makes them sound like English.
She removes those little bits of stuttering. I know some people who dictate fantasy, they'll put in a substitute word. This reader, she knows my worlds well enough where she knows when I'm trying to say.
She usually gets those back to me within 24 hours, which is phenomenal because it would take me longer. I get stuck in the plot rather than just English-izing it.
That first round of revisions is still the hardest, but that's okay because at this point, my first round of revisions when I was typing was still difficult, but they're manageable now.
I do five pages a day, takes me about 20 days and I can get through a novel that way. And I do my second revision. I do an outline revision. I don't read my books out loud because I dictate so much. I try to save my voice.
I use a program called Natural Reader. It's free. You can upgrade for like 80 bucks, but the free version is fine and just reads it out loud to me. And then when I'm done with that, I don't use beta readers anymore. I used to, but I found that it just got to the point where I wasn't using their suggestions anymore.
I edit on the side. I don't anymore, but I did in the past. And so, I understand grammar enough not to need people to tell me how to write. They just catch little typos here and there. I don't use a beta reader anymore.
Instead, I send straight to my editor. And by the way, she didn't even notice when I stopped using beta readers. I didn't tell her. I just started sending to her and she didn't even notice.
Joanna Penn: Just on that, I think that's a confidence thing. I think when you are a new writer, you need people to almost tell you that things are okay. And then as you write more books, you're like, I know how to do this.
Andrea Pearson: Exactly.
Joanna Penn: You need a professional to do the thing that professionals do.
Andrea Pearson: Exactly. And you know what your weaknesses are. You know what your strengths are. And a lot of the time because you've been doing it long enough, you recognize where there's going to be holes in the plot.
And so, if you need that you can ask your editor to look through it. Or you can have one or two readers and just say, Hey, is this a problem?
Joanna Penn: Or you can read it through and fix it yourself. Which I think is where we get to. Like I know there is a problem and I know how to fix it.
Andrea Pearson: So, my editor gets through it. She usually takes about four days. She gets it back to me, and this is the same editor from the publishing company. She's an author. And she writes two novels a month. And so, she doesn't take on clients. She's fantastic.
And then after she's done, I send it to my review crew, which is like a street team. And they look for typos and I've got some really good eagle-eye readers on there, and they'll find spare typos. And I usually tell them, please get it back before the book is published.
And sometimes I'll do an incentive, like if you read it before the day it comes out and get those typos to me, then I enter them into a giveaway. And that's not based on reviews. That's based on whether they read the book. So, it's not illegal.
Joanna Penn: I think that's fantastic.
So, I think the key, because I am sporadic for dictation. Right now, I'm doing the beginning stages of NaNoWriMo. I don't know what this book is. I could turn on my dictation, my little recorder, and I don't know what to say.
For me, discovery writing and research is a much bigger part of my process and part of what I love about being a writer.
I think for people listening that that is the key. You've put down even just a few bullet points or 50 bullet points or whatever, but you have an outline. So, when you turn it on, you know what to say.
That's the problem with dictation. You have to know what to say.
Andrea Pearson: I struggled with that quite a bit in the beginning. And something I found that helped for me was if I knew I had to describe a house, I would find a house that looked like what I wanted the house to look like. And then I would describe that. I found that seeing something visual helped give me the grounding that I needed to go off to actually start the dictating process. I don't need to do that anymore. But that's something that really helped me in the beginning.
Joanna Penn: Once I know kind of what's going on, I do the same thing. I'll look for a scene where I'm going to set the scene and bring up pictures on the computer and stuff. So good tips there.
You have two podcasts for authors; the new, as we record this Six Figure Authors podcast with Lindsay Buroker and Joe Lallo, which is great. Highly recommend that one.
And also Self-Publish Strong podcast, which is you and also sometimes your husband and you have another one for your readers as well, which is kind of crazy. I have two podcasts, but I don’t write as much and I feel like a slacker next to you!
What part does podcasting play in your author life? It can't just be for book sales because I know it's a long game. Is it for community? Why do so much audio?
Andrea Pearson: It's mostly for community. I'm home with my kids all day, so I like my podcasts. They allow me to reach people, even if it's sometimes one way, one-sided, like with my fiction podcasts, which by the way, I record in spurts and stages. I don't do it every week. I'll do like batches, which I think is what you do, isn't it? You do batches, right?
Joanna Penn: Pretty much.
Andrea Pearson: The Self-Publish Strong podcast I do with my husband. That one is based off of our passions. We're both movie people. We watch movies and we give writing tips based off of great and awful movies. And that's just a lot of fun.
We make fun of movies all the time anyways, so we decided to just turn it into a podcast. And then it talks about marketing and publishing, which are things that I'm passionate about. I haven't been doing them as long as you, Joanna. I mean, for crying out loud.
My Self-Publish Strong podcast has been going for almost two years now, but I haven't yet reached that point where I feel like it's taking a whole ton of time yet. I did hire my brother. He's a sound engineer and he does all of the edits for me on both podcasts Actually, this one and the Six Figure Authors one.
I do it to connect with people. The Six Figure Author podcast I get to hang out with Joe and Lindsay on a weekly basis. And then the one with my husband, it's kind of like a date. We actually have this set aside time where we get to talk to each other.
I make money off of my one podcast when I'm running a discount or coupon on my courses. But that's not the reason I started it. And it doesn't pay for itself yet. And so, it's just mostly for community. It's just something I absolutely love doing.
And you're the reason I started podcasting, so I have you to blame that.
Joanna Penn: Well then, I’m really glad because obviously writing books is amazing, but podcasting changed my life in so many ways. And like you say, it's community. I started podcasting back in 2009 because I didn't have any friends in the author space. I didn't know anyone. And the only way to do it is by like, Oh, Hey, how about I interview you?
Andrea Pearson: Yeah, that's cool.
Joanna Penn: You meet people and it's a network.
I'm so glad you said that because so many people start podcasting because they think it's going to make money, but it's not, is it?
Andrea Pearson: No, not yet. Not for most people. But it's like a roundabout thing. One of the things I get most from listeners is the pay it forward thing. They're willing to help out with something because they feel like I'm helping them out with something.
That’s networking. It’s very roundabout and it takes a long time. It's not something you should start off thinking that you're going to be making money because it's free. Nobody's buying the podcast unless you have an audience and you do the Patreon thing.
Joanna Penn: Like my wonderful patrons. Thank you, Patrons! [www.patreon.com/thecreativepenn]
But also, I did it for six years before I monetized. So, things are different, but I'm really glad you talked about that.
I also want to ask about your husband, Nolan. You do, like you said, The Self-Published Strong podcast. And this is something interesting. You said he has a day job but also helps you with lots of things and obviously he's into all of this stuff.
I've been husband-wrangling since 2015 when my husband left his job to join the business. I call it wrangling because realistically there are things that you might expect your husband/partner to do. Usually, you want to get rid of the things you don't want to do and sometimes the husband doesn't want to do the things that you want him to do. Speaking from personal experience, of course!
Any tips for working with loved ones? A lot of people work with their children as well, for example.
Andrea Pearson: I think in our case, especially with a spouse, there's respect. We can't treat our husbands like employees because that's not what they are. They are partners.
I tell him, I'm like, do whatever you want to do. He does all my Amazon ads and he's also started writing in the last year or so. So, he's actually a phenomenal writer, but I didn't actually expect him to write.
We actually talked about this a week ago. When you said my husband doesn't want to write. I'm like, I didn't know my husband wanted to write. He's a creative, though. And so, I don't treat him like an employee. And I know you're the same. We talked about this two years ago at the first business master class we were at together.
We work with their strengths. He's a really smart guy. I know your husband does a lot of data science stuff as well, doesn't he? My husband does a lot of data science, and so I take him, I hand off problems. I'm like this is a problem I'm having. How can I fix it?
And he's got a brain. He can see things from the outside and tell people where their problems are and how to fix it. And that's been a huge benefit for me. I just give him free rein. Our goal is for him to quit in May and he's writing now, but he's doing a whole bunch of other stuff too. He has illustration clients and things like that that he's doing work for. And I just let him go where his own creative brain takes him.
Like he doesn't tell me what to do. I mean, he's like, well, if you wrote in this genre, we'd probably make more money, but he doesn't tell me I have to do that.
And so, it's pretty much the same with him, things that he enjoys doing. I just let him take the reins on. The boring stuff, the things that I was like really hopeful that he would take over in the beginning, I have my assistant do now and she lives across the country for me and I can tell her what to do without having any problems.
Joanna Penn: I think you've hit the nail on the head. Basically, respecting what they want to do with their life as opposed to, Oh, great, you're joining the business. Here's all the things I don't want to do. I totally agree with you.
And then sometimes it's surprising. My husband was the one who really put our investment strategy into place. I know how to make money, but I had not learned to keep money. And investments.
Andrea Pearson: Yeah. My husband too.
Joanna Penn: So now we're in a much better position than we would've been because of a high-level decision-making process that I am too in the day-to-day weeds to come up with. And that was surprising.
So, I think that it is a real tip to have the freedom to roam and not expect them to be a carbon copy of who we are.
Andrea Pearson: We marry people who compliment us in a lot of ways. He's going to be able to take over, or she, whoever, can take over things that maybe you might be weak at and don't recognize.
I was saying that he sees things that I can't see. And like you said, the day to day, I'm stuck in where the rubber meets the road, the daily grind stuff. And he's separate from that. And so, he's able to be more impartial.
One thing they hit on at the masterclass was eliminating time and money leaks. He's great at doing that. He's like, okay, so how much time are you spending on this? How much money are you spending on this? Can we adjust that? Can we fix that?
My husband's a natural saver. I'm a natural saver, but I didn't learn how to be a natural saver until I married him. He’s fantastic with managing the finances of things. And so that's been huge for us.
Joanna Penn: You’ve mentioned the masterclass a couple of times and we were there last weekend. I'm going to point people to the Six Figure Authors podcast because I just listened to the first half of your double show about it.
People have been asking me to do a whole show on it and I was going to, but I have so much going on in my brain. I just can't do it. I look at my 40 pages of and kind of go, I just know I’m not ready to tackle it.
Since you have managed to put a podcast together on there, so you've actually been able to process things. Were there any sort of aha moments or things that were surprising? Like not, you know, cause lots of things are covered at NINC at 20Books to 50 K. Lots of stuff is covered elsewhere. But I find the business master class to be challenging. I kind of different levels.
Any aha moments or things that you particularly thought were worth going to the Masterclass for?
Andrea Pearson: This year they focused completely on licensing. And one of the things they said right off the bat was, don't think of your products as books. Think of them as ideas, which have multiple things, including books that you can license.
Just looking at the broader picture, can you do audiobooks? Can you do merchandise? Can you do escape rooms? Games and all. There's just so many different things that you can license from that. One specific idea of streaming videos and things like that. YouTube videos.
That was one of those aha moments for me. And then again, eliminating leaks, time leaks and money leaks and all of that, that was hugely beneficial to me.
Joanna Penn: There was so much. So just to comment on these few things.
The licensing thing I thought was interesting because it was very much about consumer product licensing. So, the show in Vegas is consumer products, whereas I was at Frankfurt book fair, which is all about foreign rights licensing and things like audio and other stuff like that.
So, this was a step beyond just the licensing that many indies do. For example, when I was chatting with someone and said, Oh, I'm not necessarily going to do products. And they were like, why have you not done a creative pen? Why do you not work with a pen manufacturer? I could do that.
Like you said, it's not just necessarily a book. It's ideas or brands that you own and control and The Creative Penn brand, which I have books, but it has other things that could be associated with it.
Or pretty much all my characters have tattoos. I don't have tattoos personally because I couldn't possibly decide on one. But pretty much all my characters have different tattoos. I could do t-shirts with tattoo designs from of my books or actual tattoos that you can get from these, um, printable tattoo sites, not ones that you actually get done.
These are just some ideas, but it was beyond books, wasn't it?
Andrea Pearson: Yes. And one thing that I really liked that they talked about was don't merchandise things like your series name or the name of a book. Merchandise, things that your characters would want to wear, because those are things that your readers are going to want to wear. The tattoo idea is fantastic because of your character wears it, which they do, then readers would be more likely to as well.
Joanna Penn: The other thing that hit me was this power differential that the person who owns the intellectual property has in the relationship.
In publishing, we're so used to being the ones going cap in hand to publishers, whereas this was very much the other way around. It was, no, you are in the power position as the IP controller, the intellectual property holder and people who want your brand and your ideas will come to you.
Andrea Pearson: Yes. You have all the cards. You're the one that's in charge.
And that's another thing that they talked about was how when you go to like licensing expos, it's different from Hollywood. Hollywood's out there to grab everything and they take advantage and exploit and everything.
But when you go to these licensing conventions, people who do games and all of these different things, they actually want to have it be mutually beneficial. They want to make you happy. They want to work with you, they want you to get what you want. And so, it's not, I mean, of course they want to get the most out of it as possible, but it's not something where they're trying to take advantage.
I absolutely love that. I think that's a fantastic way to look at it because authors are nervous. It's the way we've been browbeaten, we're nervous when it comes to our licenses and our IP and things like that. And we don't need to be.
Joanna Penn: And then the time and money leak. I agree. I think that was interesting and I think we're quite similar characters who get stuff done. And sometimes I look back, especially because my husband makes these strategic statements every now and then and then goes back to what I sometimes perceive is doing nothing.
And I'm like, okay, that was a big strategic statement, and you're completely right, and I have just spent a whole month doing something probably I shouldn't have done. I get that.
Andrea Pearson: I'm a really loyal person. And so, once I sign up for a service, I have a really hard time cutting it, especially if I know the owners of the service. I ended up canceling my subscription to a service where I know the owner because I haven't used it in two years. And what's the point? Our relationship does not have to be money based, and so I don't need to continue providing money to a service that I don't use anymore, just because I like the owner.
Joanna Penn: Ooh, that's a good one. And that, to me, is a money leak.
Money leaks, especially now with software as a service. So, these monthly recurring payments that maybe when you signed up, you were like, Oh, it's only five bucks a month, or 10 bucks a month. And then, as you say, a year later, that's $120 and I haven't used it. So, there's a direct tip for people like go through what you're signed up to and cull stuff.
Anything that came up for you around time leaks?
Andrea Pearson: Time leaks would be little things that I do that I could hand off to my assistant, you know? There's things, and again, does she need to even be doing them?
Are there are things that don't matter, they don't produce results and you do them because it's either fun? There's certain projects that I like to do that are a waste of time that I could enjoy doing something else even more. I actually like data and gathering things like that, and I hand that off to my assistant now because there's no reason why I should be doing those things.
And then again, if it's something that's not going to be beneficial, then she shouldn't even be doing them. My newsletter list, just little random things here and there that I know I need to do, but that are difficult for me to do. So, I have my assistant set up my weekly newsletter.
She'll upload pictures of my kids. I share pictures of my kids. I share funny things that my kids say with my readers, and she uploads those every single week. She's the one who uploads. If I'm doing newsletter swaps, I have her do those things because those are technically time leaks for me when I could be having somebody else do them instead.
And then specifically from the conference, just researching things that I know I'll never do. There's certain things in marketing that I know would probably be beneficial, but I know I will never have time to do it. So why even research it, other than to help other people?
Joanna Penn: Well, here's a question then. This year was a year of learning for me, and I didn't speak at conferences. I went to conferences, and this Vegas conference was very expensive for me financially. Healthwise, it was very expensive. I was sick and I got home and I was sicker, and I had a lot of sickness and it costs me in time.
But it was well worth it. And many of those ideas, I think for me, the reason I can't do a show on it is because there's such big ideas that I need time to really consider the impact on my business. And how I want to go forward now. So, this idea of how we spend our time and how we spend our money.
You went to Vegas, you have children. How do you justify spending time on conferences, which also costs you money, because you could have been writing more books or whatever.
For people listening who worry about going to conferences like this, is it worth it?
Andrea Pearson: I used to participate in a local conference. They would have me come and present and I did it every single year. We would pay for my mother-in-law to fly down and stay with the kids. And it was a little time leak because the people who attended the conference were authors who are just starting out and they would want to hire me for consulting and things like that, but the kinds of things they needed my help with were things that they could get pretty much anywhere just by doing a simple Google search.
I looked at it and I was like, this is not a benefit for me timewise. And so, I stopped doing those. The only conference I do right now, and I generally only do one a year just because, again, it is time. And would I be better off writing? The only conference I do now is for now is the Business Masterclass that Dean and Kris put on.
The reason it's worth it to me is that there's such a heavy emphasis on networking. That first year I met you, I met Mark Lefevbre. Damon Courtney was not there that year. I met him last year. I met Lindsay Buroker and Joe Lallo.
The value that has come from that first conference is huge. I've made a lot of really good connections because of that, but then I've gone every year since, because it's not just who I can meet, it's also who I can help.
I find a great deal of pleasure in being able to help other people. And because this conference is geared more towards advanced writers, I can go and teach marketing and know that they're going to better implement what I'm teaching and that they're in a better position to implement it.
It's satisfying the itch that I have to teach people and to help people further their businesses while also satisfying as social itch. I get out of the house for a week at a time. And I get to go and hang out with like-minded people. And it's also good for me because I'm networking with, again, like-minded people.
This conference definitely has been worth it. I do say people should be attending it, but they are limited. So not everybody listening can go.
Joanna Penn: And again, it's about where you are. There are different conferences for different people in different places, and it's more about what you consider, and you definitely went above and beyond.
I came at the end of one of your evening marketing sessions and boy, you were giving a lot of advice and working very hard. Kudos to you.
We're pretty much out of time, but I did want to mention, because you do have fantastic advice on marketing.
Talk about what's at Self-Publish Strong in terms of resources and courses.
Andrea Pearson: SelfPublishStrong.com is the umbrella website and it has my podcast and things like that there. If listeners want to go to selfpublishstrongcourses.com that's where all my marketing courses are.
I've got, I don't know how many, I've got one on finding reviews and subscribers and my automation sequence one which gives examples of every location pretty much where you can find readers and the sorts of automation sequences that they should go through before you start sending them weekly things.
And again, this is subjective. It's stuff that I recommend. It's not what everybody should do. They can go to selfpublishstrongcourses.com to learn more about my courses.
I've got a, a coupon code for listeners that's 30% off on all of my marketing courses, the price, they're not huge. They're $5 to $50 and so it's not a huge money investment anyway, but that coupon code is YELLOW because yellow is a color everybody knows.
Joanna Penn: Capital letters or lower case?
Andrea Pearson: I don't know if it matters. I always tell people to just do capital. It's teachable. I don't know. Do you know if teachable cares?
Joanna Penn: Haven't got a clue. So yellow and certainly given what we've been talking about, automation sequences, anything that will speed up systems and processes and help us get more done, that is just fantastic.
So where else can people find you and everything you do, since you do so much?
Andrea Pearson: I don't really like social media. I hop on there every now and then. People can follow me on Facebook. My group is called BookBub Promotions and More. I don't update it regularly. It is mostly there as a resource for people who want help with marketing and things like that.
They can just go and ask the group, but my regular places are my podcast. The Six Figure Authors podcast, if you like money and publishing stuff in general and Self-Publish Strong podcast, if you like movies and marketing and learning about publishing and marketing tips and things like that.
Those are the guaranteed, the regular ones. People can always email me.
Joanna Penn: What about your fiction?
Andrea Pearson: Are your listeners going to care about my fiction?
Joanna Penn: They might want to have a look that you know what you're talking about.
Andrea Pearson: That's true.
I'm so not used to talking about my fiction books to authors. You can find me on Amazon. My website is AndreaPearsonbooks.com. One of my courses teaches how to get reviews with autoresponders. A set it and forget it tactic for the sleep-deprived,
The book that I've been focusing mostly on is Shade Amulet, and if listeners want to go and see 'em there are about 40 of the reviews on Shade Amulet that came from my review crew and the rest have come from my autoresponder methods. I don't even have to think about it. It's constantly getting me a steady stream of reviews coming through.
You can check me out on Amazon. That's where most of my reviews are because that's where most everybody's reviews are, because that's where a lot of downloads are.
My marketing books, I do have books for authors available. I don't focus on them. I don't have very many reviews on them because I generally forget that I do nonfiction stuff as well. But if you look at my fiction stuff, you can see where I've put into practice what I teach.
Joanna Penn: I think you're a force of nature, Andrea, and you definitely teach me things, so I highly recommend Self-Publish Strong and the Six Figure Authors podcast.
Thanks so much for your time, Andrea. That was great.
Andrea Pearson: No problem. It was a lot of fun hanging out with you again. We should do this more often. Like yearly at the business masterclass.