Joanna Penn is a life-long entrepreneur that has also worked for major corporations, and has even run her own scuba diving business. But after years of not finding what made her happy she turned to writing books and found the true success she’d wanted all along.
Fifteen books later, this fiction and non-fiction author is the epitome of success in the self-publishing movement.
Want to know how to leave your day job and become a full-time successful author? This interview is for you …
In this episode Joanna and I discuss:
- How to leave your job and build a writing career
- How she makes money in her book business
- What it takes to become a full-time authorpreneur and succeed at it over the long-term
- Why book covers and pen names matter more than you think
- The #1 way to sell books and find new readers
- Why we need more women authorpreneurs to step into the spotlight
Listen to Authorpreneur below ...
The Show Notes
- The Creative Penn Site
- Joanna’s Amazon Author Page
- The Creative Penn Podcast
- Author Marketing Institute
- Author Marketing Club
How a Life-Long Entrepreneur Transformed Into a Full-Time Author
Jim Kukral: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.
Okay, I’m not going to tell the entire story or give names. Let me just say this, though. The last time my guest today and I met in person, we may or may not have ended up at a karaoke bar at 2:00 a.m. in Charleston, South Carolina. There may or may not have been a saddle on the bar that one of us, not saying who, ended up sitting on, and of course, some poor singing that took place as well. I also heard rumors there were margaritas involved at some point in the evening. So, Joanna, those things may or may not have happened, right?
Joanna Penn: I think you’re just giving away all our secrets, Jim, and I think my karaoke’s actually pretty good. Yours is pretty shocking, but that may or may not be shocking, as the point may be.
Jim Kukral: It happened. That sounds like a really fun evening, doesn’t it?
Joanna Penn: It was. It really shows the power of meeting people online. It was actually the first time you and I met, too. The power of the Internet is, I’m in London right now, you’re in the US, we’ve connected over years now online and only ever met that once in person, so very cool. I’m so happy to be on your new show.
Jim Kukral: I’m so happy to have you. Of course, we’re speaking with Joanna Penn from the TheCreativePenn.com. She’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author, as well as a writer of non-fiction for authors.
She’s a professional speaker, authorpreneur, and entrepreneur, and she’s voted as one of the Guardian UK Top 100 Creative Professionals in 2013.
As you mentioned, you are the first woman on the show, so thank you very much for coming on the show.
Joanna Penn: Oh, nice. It’s good to be here and representing all the ladies out there.
Jim Kukral: What I love about your story is that you spent 13 years as a business IT consultant.
Joanna Penn: Yes, definitely boring. Let’s face it.
Jim Kukral: Then you go from this large corporate Borg machine, working all over the globe and then turn yourself into a full-time authorpreneur. Let’s talk a little bit about that story. I find that very fascinating that people can go from one thing to the next.
From Entrepreneur to Authorpreneur, Living the Life You Want to Live
Joanna Penn: I think the first thing to say is it clearly wasn’t an overnight process. It took me quite a long time. I pretty much, as soon as I got out of university, I did theology at Oxford, and as soon as I got out of Oxford, I joined Extentia, which I’m sure many people know, a large management consultancy firm. Pretty much as soon as I joined that firm to start paying off my student loans, I wanted to leave it and have another job. I wanted to do something else with my life, but it actually took me 13 years in the end to get out.
Along the way, I started a scuba diving company in New Zealand. I did property investment in Australia. I left my job over and over again and ended up going back in order to pay the bills. I was just so sick of this going backwards and forwards and not being happy with my life. Living in a nice place, a decent job — what people would say is a good job that pays the bills and that your parents are proud of, that kind of thing — but I wasn’t happy.
I started reading a lot of self-help books and ended up deciding to write my own self-help book that would hopefully help me and help other people find what they wanted to do with their life. That became Career Change. The original title was How to Enjoy Your Job or Find a New One. I rewrote it, but that was the start. That was back in 2007, before the Kindle, when self-publishing was sort of sneered upon and looked down upon. That was really the start.
Jim Kukral: I love this story. Before we continue on, how many books do you have now combined, fiction and non-fiction?
Joanna Penn: Fifteen books plus a short story collection.
Jim Kukral: What I love about this is you went from not being a writer to writing books, leaving a corporate job, and now, you’re at a place now where you’ve actually become very much what this show is about: an authorpreneur.
It’s so interesting to me that you were an entrepreneur before you became the authorpreneur because you said you had all these business ventures you started. Obviously, that entrepreneurial background helped you move forward with self-publishing and being an authorpreneur, right?
Joanna Penn: Yeah, I think I very much have always been very independent. I had some quite clear ideas what I wanted in terms of income. I was never going to be somebody who accepted the poor author sort of idea. I tried these businesses, but they failed for reasons. I don’t believe in failure. I know you feel the same thing.
It’s just lessons learned that you take on to the next venture, but for example, the scuba diving business. I love scuba diving. I was a dive master. My husband at the time was a skipper, and we had a boat. The overhead costs of running a scuba diving business are ridiculous. The price of fuel just needs to go up the next day, and you haven’t got any profit, let alone the weather, the insurance, and all that. That really taught me about overheads in business, which was a hard lesson to learn.
For example, being an authorpreneur, our overheads are tiny. You need a laptop. You need an Internet connection. It’s free to self-publish, and then you have the various costs to edit and that type of thing, but the production costs are tiny compared to running a scuba diving company or, indeed, property investment, where I learned a lot about the problem of physical assets and the problem of the markets.
All of those things helped me. Also, I guess, my day job, which consistently paid the bills for years. I learned about really spending your life doing something you’re passionate about. I got to the point in my corporate job where I was crying every day, and I’m not a crier. I really am not. I was so angry all the time. Again, I’m not an angry person. I was like, “Why am I angry, frustrated, upset all the time? This is not a fun way to live.” I really learned then it’s not just about the money you make. It’s about the life you want to live.
All those things came together and coalesced in becoming an author and becoming a speaker, an authorpreneur. It combines making a good living with the low overheads and high profit margin with doing something I’m passionate about and the indie movement, which I’m a real cheerleader for. I think it’s low risk as well. I can publish a book. If it works, brilliant. If it doesn’t, I haven’t lost very much. There’s so much going for this business model. I just love talking about it.
Jim Kukral: I love this line on your site that says, “I was desperately trying to find another life.” That kind of sums up what you were just saying, but the leap where you make from a corporate job to writing full time doesn’t happen overnight. There must have been a transition period where you wrote a first book and then a second and a third. Were you still at the job while you were doing that, or did you just cut the cord and go for it?
How to Leave Your Job and Build a Writing Career
Joanna Penn: It took me about three and a half years to move from the first idea. Well, I say three and a half years. It was about 2007 when I first started looking into self-help and writing a book, and then I got my first book out in 2008. I finally left my job in September 2011.
During that time, I did a couple of things. First of all, I started getting up very early. As a business consultant, highly paid at the time, I had to work really hard like most people do at their day jobs, so the only time that I was going to be able to write was before work when my brain was still alive. I would get up early and write before work. At the time, I was writing non-fiction.
Then, also, we got rid of our TV at that point and have never had a TV again to be honest, but I would spend the evenings and the weekends building my platform, as they say. I started TheCreativePenn.com blog in December 2008. I started podcasting in 2009.
In the evenings and the weekends, I was basically writing, building my platform, connecting with people. I must have met you on Twitter probably back in that time, 2009, 2010 period, and that’s just basically growing my network. I was living in Australia back then. Now, I’m in London, but essentially every spare moment that I wasn’t at my job, I was doing that.
The other thing that really made a big difference was moving to a smartphone. It seems crazy now because so many people have a smartphone, but at the time, I was really stuck in my old, text-based phones. As soon as I moved to a smartphone, I could use Twitter during my lunch hour. I was doing stuff on social media during my day job. Essentially, for three and a half years, I did that.
I eventually moved to four days a week, so I had that extra day a week. I also saved up six months’ income so that, when I gave up my day job as the prime wage earner in my family, we would have a buffer. I said to my husband, “If I’m not making decent money in six months, I’ll go back to my day job,” and I never did. So that was cool.
Jim Kukral: That’s a great story. You write both fiction and non-fiction books. You started out with the non-fiction. You also write the fiction books, and I love this line from your website. You have seven books in the ARKANE action adventure thriller series described by readers as “a female Indiana Jones meets Dan Brown.” You’re writing in both genres. Which one’s more fun? Which one’s more profitable?
Fiction vs. Non-Fiction for Having Fun and Making Money
Joanna Penn: It’s so funny. I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I’ve got a blog post coming up about Plato’s Chariots. If you wouldn’t know what that is, Plato has this sort of metaphor of a chariot with a white horse and a black horse, and they have to run together. You need the black horse and the white horse, and you can’t let one dominate for too long. I feel like that in my life. I write fiction as JF Penn, and I write non-fiction, and I blog and speak as Joanna Penn and at TheCreativePenn.com. When you say fun and profit, to be honest, they both are fun, and they’re both profit in their different ways.
Let’s take fiction, which I think people don’t understand is a brilliant business model. Every novel you write or every fictional product is evergreen basically. It’s evergreen for the rest of your life, and 70 years after you die. You don’t have to update that. Even if, in the short term, non-fiction can be a lot more profitable than fiction in the short term, in the long term, I’m going to earn money off my 10 novels for a very long time. I’m only 40, so that’s potentially quite a lot of years to earn off those. Every time you add another book into your repertoire, you get customers for your backlists.
Over time, I think that fiction is the most fun and the most profitable, but non-fiction, immediately, is usually more profitable as you know. You can add in the backend of speaking, course sales, and all that kind of thing. It’s also fun because I really like helping people, so I think there is definitely a bit of both for me. I would say to people, “Don’t do what I do unless you really are that person.”
I’ve been overtaken on both sides in terms of in comments, audience, and things, by people who have focused on one or the other, but again, you have to be true to yourself and satisfy your whole self. As Carl Jung would say, “Embrace the shadow.” My JF Penn, my fictional self, is my shadow side and writes quite dark books, fun dark books, action adventure, but lots of explosions and body counts and things like that, a lot of fun.
Jim Kukral: One of my questions I actually had, and you brought this up, was on your fiction books, you call yourself JF Penn. Is this like the JK Rowling effect? I think this is an interesting topic for authors who write fiction. Why do authors tend to do the J, the initials?
Joanna Penn: Initials.
Jim Kukral: Why do people do that, and why did you do it?
Why Pen Names Matter More Than You Think
Joanna Penn: First of all, it is a separate brand. If you have a separate brand as a writer, I think it’s good to have a separate name. The audience for JF Penn thrillers is very different to the audience for Joanna Penn books for authors, for example. It was always going to be a different brand.
In terms of the initials, you’re right. There is a gender-neutral vibe about having initials. You’ll often find that people who use initials are women writing in a male-dominated genre or men writing in a female-dominated genre. JK Rowling, she writes as Robert Galbraith also in the crime genre, which I enjoy her books as Galbraith. But JK Rowling, at the time, fantasy was seen as a male-dominated niche.
I write my ARKANE series, action adventure, which is full of people like Clive Cussler, so again, a woman writing in a male-dominated niche. Some of my first reviews commented on my gender, saying a woman writing fight scenes, for example. I just didn’t want that to be an issue, so I decided to go with the gender-neutral initials so that people wouldn’t judge my books by my gender, although I don’t hide my gender. If you click on my name on Amazon or look on my website, it’s very clear I’m a woman. It just takes away that immediate judgment I think.
Jim Kukral: I find that fascinating. It’s interesting to me that people will have that psychological reaction to a name and say, “Well, this is written by a woman or a man, and therefore, it’s not a book for me.” I really find that fascinating. I think that’s a really great tip for an author who’s putting out a series of books. Do you actually believe that that can help with book sales if you do something like that?
Joanna Penn: It’s really hard because you can never do a perfect split test. To do that, you’d have to lay down exactly the same book in two different names and see what happens. I personally feel very happy with having two brands. I also like it in terms of productivity.
One of the biggest questions we all get is, “How do you manage your time?” I actually schedule my diary with time for JF Penn and time for The Creative Penn, which helps me. I think it helps the readers. Of course, on Amazon and the bookstores, you do need a name brand per different type of genre. I think having an author name that covers a specific type of books is very useful. What that name is can be difficult.
I think a bigger issue is if you have a difficult name. One of my favorite authors is James Rollins. His name is not Rollins. It’s like Czajkowski something, a Polish name that he changed to an anglicized name in order that people could actually say it.
I actually think that’s a much bigger deal. In thinking about the URL, in hindsight, I wouldn’t have used ‘F’ because, when I say ‘JFPenn.com,’ people are like, “Is that F for Freddie or S for Superman?” It’s actually F for Frances, I should say, but F is a difficult letter to say out loud. I think that’s another tip for people.
Jim Kukral: You are the super authorpreneur. You’re doing both genres. You are just really kicking butt with doing all the things you’re doing, writing in schedules for different pen names and everything. Do you have to be that type of person to have success in this, or can you get away with it if you’re just halfway there?
What It Takes to Become a Full-Time Authorpreneur and Succeed at It Over the Long-Term
Joanna Penn: I think it’s got to depend on your definition of success. You and I both are very aware that, in the high-volume fiction business model, for example, there are writers who you never would have heard of them. Nobody will have heard of them, but they are making 50 grand a month writing romance or erotica books. They’re not blogging. They don’t necessarily have a website other than an email-list-gathering mechanism.
You’ll never see them at conferences. A lot of them are stay-at-home moms who are making a great living for their families. You can be somebody who just wants to write books, and your content marketing can be more books. That’s one kind of extreme example of a writer who just wants to write and doesn’t want to do all this stuff.
You’re on the opposite end of the spectrum, Jim. From what I’ve heard, you prefer the other side of the business, and the books are more of a lead magnet for you. You’re not a hardcore writer. You’re into all the other things, and writing is just one part. I fall in the middle. I really love writing, but it’s not enough for me. I also enjoy podcasting, I enjoy videos, I enjoy conferences, and all that type of thing.
You can make a success of whichever end of the spectrum, or anywhere on the spectrum, that you want to be. It’s just a case of deciding what your definition of success is and then making a plan to hit that. On my wall, for example, it says, “Have you made art today?” One of my things is I really need to make art every day, and the definition of ‘art’ is quite a broad one. Also, I am creating a body of work I’m proud of, so that’s another guiding principle for my life. I don’t actually have any financial targets on my wall. They’re more longer-term things that I think about every day.
Jim Kukral: What moves books for you? You are doing the podcasts. You’ve got the blog, obviously. Let’s start with fiction. What moves the books? What gets people to buy it, and how do you build a platform for that? Let’s start with fiction.
The #1 Way to Sell Books and Find New Readers
Joanna Penn: They’re very different. Fiction and non-fiction, totally different. For fiction, it is an email list. I have the first book in my series for free, Stone of Fire. It’s free and says at the front, “Get another free book if you sign up for my email list.”
Building that email list is critical. You can just email that out when your next book is out. Regardless of if Amazon falls or if iBooks falls, we will always be able to sell product direct to customers, so email list always number one regardless.
Having a free first-in-series, writing in a series is super important in fiction if you want to make a living out of it. Probably the next one is paid traffic like BookBub can actually move the needle, but more nowadays, we use BookBub to spike the sale of the free magnet, which fills the email list, and then kind of go that way, and also regular books. I don’t think you can get away with one book a year if you are an indie trying to make a living out of this. You clearly can if you’re traditionally published with a big publisher pushing you, but for us, it’s more of a regular schedule.
Jim Kukral: I want to just make sure everyone understands what Joann said there. Very good tips here. Number one, the reader magnet, right? Nick Stephenson’s The Reader Magnet, getting that person into the first one, giving it away for free, then driving that person to an email list is essential for this model that you’re going for with your fiction books. Then, continuing to write books in that series so that people read it and say, “Now, I love that book. How do I go immediately buy the next one?” That’s the model for that, right?
Joanna Penn: Yeah, essentially. Also, in terms of writing more quickly, in a series, it’s much easier because you have your characters. You have your world. They just need another adventure. In my ARKANE books, ARKANE is a secret agency, and they investigate supernatural mysteries.
In each book, the main characters, Morgan and Jake, have to stop the bad guys destroying the world and solve the supernatural mystery. People come back for that same experience. Each book can be stand alone, but it is a true series in that you can read them all and be expanding adventures basically.
Jim Kukral: Let’s talk about non-fiction because it’s different. Fiction is the entertainment aspect. I’ve always said there are two reasons people come to the Internet. Number one, to have a problem solved, and number two, to be entertained. Of course, to be entertained is the fiction end of things. To have a problem solved is the non-fiction end of things. Some of the same things still work — having the reader magnet, getting people into your email list. Obviously, that’s the same thing, but what’s different about moving books in the non-fiction space?
How to Move Books in the Non-Fiction Space
Joanna Penn: I’d add another thing. I actually think non-fiction is about information, as you say, solving problems, but also inspiration. This podcast, for example, is inspirational as well because it gives people examples to follow. I think that piece is becoming more and more important.
One of the things in non-fiction is building a tribe and being authentic. I actually think that having a podcast, I’m on episode 225 or something of my podcast now, and probably my biggest non-fiction fans are people who listen to my podcasts every week. They’ve listened to my voice for hundreds of hours, potentially, over the last five years, so that kind of being a leader. I guess in the Indie niche, I’m in the sort of a tribe role, I suppose, tribe leader role. I think that’s brilliant.
In terms of non-fiction, you can do it two ways. Just solving a problem, you can just write books that are SEO optimized. For example, my book Career Change, I don’t have a platform around career change at all. I’m not interested in talking to corporate people who want to get out of their jobs necessarily, but that book sells because the title is an SEO title. If you type in career change on Amazon, you’re going to find my book. That’s one example of that information SEO thing.
Then the inspirational side, as well as the information, you can do through blogging, speaking, podcasting, social media — all that platform type of thing, which drives traffic to those books. I’ve got a book right now, How to Make a Living With Your Writing, which is still a bestseller after a few weeks because my audience were ready for that. You can do one or either of those options, or both basically.
Jim Kukral: Your book covers are really amazing. Who does them, and how important to have the right cover?
The Vital Elements of a Successful Book Cover and Why They Matter
Joanna Penn: I don’t want to give away the name of my book cover designer. It’s super secret. No, I do have a list, actually, of TheCreativePenn.com/BookCoverDesigns. I do have lots there because what you have as a design is really also dependent on you and what you like. I do think that, in terms of marketing, your book cover is super important for fiction and non-fiction.
It’s got to resonate with the genre and with what people are expecting. Especially with non-fiction right now, it’s important to have big, bold text so that it can be seen on a thumbnail and people know what they’re getting. I think that’s super important.
Jim Kukral: Let’s talk a little bit more about how important that is. Someone comes to the page on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and they look at that cover, that little thumbnail. What does that cover have to do to get the person to be interested in the book in your opinion?
Joanna Penn: It just has to capture the promise of the book. That person has arrived there from wherever, and they have to resonate with the book. They do judge it by the cover very quickly. For example, I’m a chronic sampler. I’m an ebook shopper only, and I will find books. I’ll be surfing the bestseller charts. If I see a cover that I like with a title that I like, I’ll download a sample. I’m not even looking at reviews or anything like that, so those things make a really big difference.
Also, in black and white, I use a Kindle Paperwhite, so I don’t even search in color. The cover has to look as good in black and white as it does in color, which I think people often forget. I also buy books on my phone. I put things in my wish list on my phone, so again, they’re really, really small on the phone. They have to look good in a smaller size. All of those things need to go into the book cover. For example, traditional publishers put these tiny, tiny quotes, which might look good on a print cover, but don’t look good on an ebook cover.
Jim Kukral: Exactly. What’s the number one tool or resource, besides my site, Author Marketing Club, I don’t want that to be a loaded question. This was not planned. Besides my site and the things that I do, what’s the number one tool or resource that you think an aspiring authorpreneur should subscribe to or use?
The Best Tool for Aspiring Authorpreneurs
Joanna Penn: Well, probably the number one tool is Scrivener in my opinion. I plan in Scrivener. I organize things in Scrivener, and not just books. I write courses in Scrivener. I have a marketing Scrivener file, which has loads of marketing ideas. I run my business using Scrivener.
Then, in terms of writing books, it’s amazing for non-fiction because you can drag and drop things around. Nobody writes in order. For fiction, it’s awesome. Then you can also publish from it. You can actually output Kindle files and EPUB files. And it’s 45 US dollars for one payment. It’s the craziest, amazing piece of software ever, and it’s on MAC and Windows. Scrivener is probably the number one tool I would very much struggle to run my business without.
Jim Kukral: You’re self-published. I don’t believe you have a traditionally published book, am I wrong?
Joanna Penn: I have a book in Germany.
Jim Kukral: You do? Okay, so let’s say the scenario comes down that a traditional publisher comes to you and says, “We want to publish this book.” Are you taking that deal, and if not, why?
Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing
Joanna Penn: Yeah, definitely, I’m interested in traditional publishing in a number of ways. I do have a non-fiction book proposal I’m putting together, specifically to pitch to traditional publishing because of marketing reasons. I absolutely can publish and market on my own, but in terms of, for example, speaking fees, you and I both know that sometimes a traditionally published book can be a big difference in terms of speaking fees.
That’s one example is traditional publishing as marketing. Actually, that would probably be my other reason for fiction is the same deal. For example, getting into airports is still really something that traditional publishing is very good at.
There’s definitely reasons one would be interested in traditionally publishing, but for me, it would very much be how it fitted into my existing business. It would probably be more for marketing reasons than for income reasons. Although, of course, if the price was right, then definitely. I’m not anti-traditional publishing by any means.
I think the individual has to decide what their definition of success is, again, and what they want to achieve, and also how independent they really are. What I’ve learned recently, really, I used to think that everybody should be an indie. Everybody could self-publish, but I’ve really seen that some people just don’t want to do the publishing side. A lot of the things like keywords, meta data, and stuff like that, which I am excited about, some people don’t want to do. Yeah, I guess those would be my reasons.
Jim Kukral: Well, it’s definitely a lot of work to be an authorpreneur, absolutely. We’re almost out of time. Let’s talk a little bit more about other ways you can make money. You have the books, of course. You earn the revenue directly from the books, which it sounds like the primary way that you earn revenue. There are other things you do as well. I know that you have a course or two and maybe, perhaps, speaking.
How Joanna Makes Money in Her Book Business
Joanna Penn: Well, actually, I just recently did my taxes for the last financial year, so 50 percent of my six-figure income is book sales. I’ve just done the analysis on splitting that down, but 88 percent of that is from ebooks. A year ago, I had zero percent from audio books, and now it’s about 5 percent audio books. That’s quite exciting, the fact that, in the last year, audio books have appeared on my P&L.
So 50 percent ebooks, around 10 percent professional speaking, 25 percent courses and selling, and another 10 percent selling other people’s courses, so affiliate fees, that type of thing. Then I have sponsorship and advertising on my site. Certainly affiliate fees, speaking, sponsorship, these are all additional income streams for me, and my own courses.
You know and I’m sure listeners understand about the non-fiction revenue streams. A $2.99, $4.99, or $6.99 book is never going to be enough to run a business. You have to have the other stuff on the back end. I like doing both basically.
Jim Kukral: Two questions on that, and then we’re going to wrap up here. Let’s talk about the price point first because I think that’s really interesting. The average ebook price point that you have the most success with is what?
Joanna Penn: An average is no use to anyone. I have free books that have the most downloads. I have books at $2.99, $4.99, $6.99, all the way up to $13.99, which I don’t sell on Amazon because they don’t fit on the scale. At $13.99, you can do sales on Kobo and iBooks, and they do very, very well. My top income earner is probably the box set of the first three ARKANE books, which sells for $6.99.
For example, in print, my biggest earner would be How to Market a Book in print because people like to buy that, so I don’t think an average price is any use. I think for non-fiction, it’s a higher price. For fiction, having free, having cheaper, having more expensive, plus book sets is the way to go. Just spreads of price points is probably the most effective.
Jim Kukral: But you test them, right? In a general sense, a thriller book is usually priced at a specific price in an ebook form, and then at print book level, right? Do you stick with the industry standard, or you try new price points and go up and down and see what works?
Joanna Penn: Well, there’s free, but full length, I do $4.99 for a full-length novel, and I do $2.99 for a novella.
Jim Kukral: I just want people to understand that there is different price points. You don’t have to do what everybody else is doing. You can test at different levels, and see if it works out for you, right?
Joanna Penn: Yeah, and with non-fiction, you definitely make it higher. I’ve got $7.99, I think, for Business for Authors.
Jim Kukral: That’s a great point. Last question here. Do you sell many print books, or is it mostly digital?
Joanna Penn: Yeah, it’s mostly digital. I said that 88 percent ebooks, but you know, it’s great having print books for giveaways, for marketing purposes, for people to sign. Also, non-fiction, I find people love to buy print books to actually scribble in them. I really like getting screenshots from readers who’ve scribbled all over my books. I think that is awesome. Especially in these days of print on demand, you might as well have a print book, even if it’s a 25,000-word short book. It’s definitely well worth doing.
Jim Kukral: You and I have had this conversation before. Where are all the women who want to come on shows like this, speak at events, and stuff like that? We need to have more women because they’re out there. The women are out there. Where are they all, and how can we get them more involved and empowered to talking about the self-publishing industry?
Why We Need More Women Authorpreneurs to Step Into the Spotlight
Joanna Penn: You know, it’s funny. I was thinking about this, and I certainly know some of the women I most respect in the indie world write romance, and they’re running multi-million-dollar empires with no need to speak at events or do any of this kind of stuff. Looking at Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Jasinda Wilder, Liliana Hart, these ladies do speak at Romance Writers America and places like that, but probably, the romance niche is full of a lot of ladies, dominantly by women, just making money writing books. I think it’s quite interesting. Whereas, in this kind of space, it is more male dominated it seems, but yeah, hopefully, we’ll see more ladies coming out and being on your show. That’s for sure.
Jim Kukral: I’m counting on you to introduce me to some ladies who would love to come on and talk about their authorpreneur careers.
Joanna Penn: I’m going to sort it out, Jim, definitely.
Jim Kukral: Before we go, I’d like you to tell people where they can go to learn more about all the things you’re doing and pick up some copies of your book.
Joanna Penn: Sure, if you fancy trying my fiction, it’s at JFPenn.com or all the online stores. For people who are interested in writing, marketing, and becoming a full-time author entrepreneur, TheCreativePenn.com. You can always ask me a question on Twitter @TheCreativePenn.
Jim Kukral: Thank you, Joanna, for coming on the show. I really appreciate that, and I will look forward to having you back on in a period of time and find out how much success you’ve grown since then. I know you will turn it into a mega success.
Joanna Penn: Thanks for having me, Jim.
Jim Kukral: All right, well, thanks for coming on the show. Everyone listening, please check out Joanna’s website, TheCreativePenn.com.
After you do that, if you’re an authorpreneur or an aspiring authorpreneur, you can and you should head on over to my website, AuthorMarketingInstitute.com to learn more about the business of writing and marketing your books. Grab a free video course we have up called How to Sell the First 100 Copies of Your Book.
All right, guys, cue the music. It’s time for all of us to get back to work writing books and building businesses. I’m Jim Kukral, and I’ll be back soon with another Authorpreneur show guest who will help you on your journey to becoming an authorpreneur yourself.
Thank you for listening, and as always, reviews and shares of the show are greatly appreciated. All right, everybody, have a great week. We’ll talk to you next time. Bye-bye.