Reviewed by Chris Longmuir
Joanna Penn is something of a guru in terms of self-publishing and she knows what she is talking about, so I simply had to read her new book How To Make a Living with your Writing.
Penn puts forward a business model in this book and is quick to point out that the book is not a get rich quick scheme. I would add that it is also not a how to write book. Instead, this is a book that is stuffed with tips on how to make a living from writing and is based on her personal experience.
Penn starts out by comparing traditional, indie and self-publishing, setting out the pros and cons of each one. She considers herself an indie author (independently published), and considers there is a difference between self-publishing and indie publishing. Self-publishing is doing everything yourself, and usually falls into the category of a hobby. On the other hand the indie works with top freelance professionals, such as editors and cover designers, to create a quality product, and is thus a business. An author has to decide where they fit on this spectrum, as not every approach will suit all authors.
One of the main themes, and one that she stresses is of the utmost importance, is that writers have the ability to develop multiple streams of income from each of their books. She quotes, ebooks, print books, and audio books, but she does not stop there. She goes on to suggest other aspects of earning a living from writing – things like product sales, affiliate income, consulting or coaching, professional speaking, advertising and sponsorship, and she has used all of these methods to maximise her income.
She sets out a series of first principles:-
Authors should –
1) Think of themselves as entrepreneurs.
2) Focus on creating scalable income – with scalable income you create once and sell the finished article over and over again. The time is spent once but the income continues.
3) Develop multiple streams of income and not just rely on the sale of ebooks and print books.
4) Think globally, both digital and mobile.
5) Decide on their definition of success, whether it is literary success or commercial success.
Penn presents a fair amount of information that is probably common knowledge, but she also expands this into interesting new ideas, and avenues of income generation that many authors may not have considered.
There is a lot to like in this book which is written in an easy conversational manner that makes it a pleasure to read.