All authors start with a blank page and no audience. You don't get from the first word to multi-six-figures overnight, but it can be done if you are persistent and productive over time.
Here are the significant steps on my journey from writing my first book while working at my corporate day job to a multi-six-figure author entrepreneur.
Sept 2006 – Although apparently ‘successful,' I was miserable in my corporate job so I started to research how to change my life. I was reading a lot of self-help books, so I decided to write my own. When I discovered how slow the publishing industry was, I decided to self-publish, way back when there was no Kindle, ebooks were still niche, and print-on-demand was only just becoming viable.
April 2008 – published How to Enjoy your Job or Find a New One. [I rewrote and republished it as Career Change in 2012.]
Dec 2008 – Started this site, TheCreativePenn.com – after giving up on 2 other blogs first. Tip: call your main website something that can grow with you over time, not something related to your book. [Here's my tutorial on how to build your own author website in 30 mins.]
Jan 2009 – I joined Twitter @thecreativepenn. This might not seem momentous but at the time, I was living in Brisbane, Australia and I had no author friends. I was self-publishing at a time when it wasn't acceptable so I felt very alone. I found like-minded people on Twitter and nowadays, some of my best ‘real' friends are writers I met on Twitter first.
Mar 2009 – Started The Creative Penn podcast, and still rocking the show after all these years! For the first show, I put a landline on the speakerphone and held an MP3 recorder next to it. Not very professional, but I started 🙂 Here's how I podcast now.
Feb 2011 – Published my first novel, Pentecost, later re-published as Stone of Fire. Here are all my posts about writing the novel from NaNoWriMo in 2009, to writing and rewriting and then publication.
Sept 2011 – Left my day job at a large corporate to go full-time based on income from the blog + book sales + speaking + downsizing. I am creative. I am an author. From affirmation to reality. Giving up my day job to become an author-entrepreneur.
Nov 2013 -Voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013.
Jan 2014 – I start publishing my fiction and non-fiction under separate names. A tale of two author brands. On managing both my own brands. My fiction is at www.JFPenn.com
March 2014 – My novel, One Day in Budapest, was in a multi-author box set that hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, selling over 100,000 copies in the few weeks it was available
Aug 2015 – I start to make 6 figures from my writing – incorporating book sales, blog related income, speaking and everything related to my author business
Oct 2015 – Hired my husband, Jonathan, out of his day job to join The Creative Penn
April 2016 – I start to make multi-six figures from my writing – 10 years after I started writing the first book. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but it is a get rich slowly scheme!
Aug 2016 – ARKANE thriller box set 1, featuring my first 3 novels published 2012-2013, hit the USA Today bestseller list
July 2017 – Destroyer of Worlds was a Finalist in the International Thriller Writer (ITW) Awards for Best Ebook Original
July 2018 – My annual book sales figure breakdown by format, genre, vendor, country and author name, as well as what I will do better in the next year.
September 2019 – Lessons Learned from 8 Years as an Author Entrepreneur
September 2020 – Lessons Learned from 9 Years as an Author Entrepreneur
September 2020 – As part of the life examination we all went through during the COVID19 pandemic, Jonathan decided to go back to work in the pharmaceutical industry. I am once more the sole employee of The Creative Penn Limited, although I still have a team of freelancers who help me with the business.
September 2021. Lessons Learned from 10 Years as an Author Entrepreneur (including what I learned from getting Covid).
December 2021. Not Quite The Year We Expected. My Round-Up of 2021.
July 2022. Launched my own bookstore, www.CreativePennBooks.com, with the goal to become even more independent from the big stores.