You all know I’m a fan of Joanna Pen—I said so before—and I recently even became a supporter of The Creative Penn Podcast through Patreon. Because of my monthly pledge, I now have free access to all her e-books and audiobooks, and it’s so worth it. The first book I listened to (which was literally the first book I ever listened to) was Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur. I believe it’s the only book she narrated herself, and that was one of the main reasons I wanted to try that one out. Not that there is anything wrong with the narrator she uses now, but Penn’s voice is such a part of my daily life, I can’t help but enjoy listening to it. After all, it’s the voice that made me take my writing seriously. She also writes the way she speaks—I think so, anyway—which makes for an easy listen.
I like big books…
Remember my initial disappointment at the length of The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey? Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur is twice as long! I’m sorry, I just like big books… Knowing Penn’s straightforward, cut-to-the-chase writing style, I knew it meant the book offered crazy amounts of information. And that it does. It shouldn’t have surprised me, but it’s such a complete reference book, and it discusses so many scenarios, I’d argue that all serious writers can benefit from it, whether they intend to walk in Penn’s business-minded footsteps or not.
While the book is clearly aimed at indie authors who see their writing (or wish to see their writing) as an actual business, there’s plenty of useful information for those who are set on following a more traditional path, and Penn tends to make explicit which bit of information is important to which type of writer. Not that being traditionally published is that far removed from going indie these days: most publishers no longer care all you want to do is ‘just write’, and they will expect you to actively engage in branding your name, marketing your work, and building an author platform. Penn also gives pointers about what to look for in agent or publishing contracts, and that information is pure gold, especially if you want to go ‘trad’.
Everything you’ve always wanted to know about being an author entrepreneur
The book is divided into eight parts, or chapters, and they cover pretty much everything you need to know as an author entrepreneur, or authorpreneur (From Author to Entrepreneur; Products and Services; Employees, Suppliers and Contractors; Customers; Sales and Distribution; Marketing; Financials; Strategy and Planning). Within each of these parts, which are each divided into smaller topics, Penn discusses about everything there is to say about that particular topic (pros, cons, why, for whom), whether she’s talking about how to find a good editor, ISBNs, plagiarism, bookkeeping, or the costs of having an author business.
A must-have reference book
This is not to say that Penn knows everything about everything, but what I admire about her is that she’s always honest about her limitations. Instead of simply not including those aspects of the business she knows or cares little about, which is a widely known tactic, she introduces the topic the best way she can, and then tells you where to find more detailed information if you’re interested. She’s an avid reader, so even if she lacks first-hand experience, she’ll get you to the right source. Amongst the many appendices, there’s even a list of resources. That alone makes this book a must-have for every writer, whether indie or trad—it’s a great reference book to have at your fingertips, and if it doesn’t answer your questions immediately, it will at least give you a shortcut to where to find them. And that for a lousy £5.55 (Kindle) or £8.99 (paperback).*
I’ve read multiple books by Joanna Penn (no surprises there), and I’ll admit there’s a bit of overlap here and there. Echoes of the first chapter are loud and clear in The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey, and the marketing chapter overlaps (how could it not?) with her How To Market A Book. This is, however, not a reason to either skip these chapters, or not to read those other books.
Yes, she doesn’t unravel these topics to the same extent as she does in the separate books, but she also doesn’t merely touch upon them. Instead, she embeds the topics in the larger theme of the book, which is the building and maintaining of an author business. She focuses on why a specific author mindset is needed if you want to build and maintain such a business, or what place marketing should have in one’s business. In other words, she unravels those topics in the context of authorpreneurship.
Should you read those other books as well? Yes, if these are topics that you want to understand better. But author mindset might not be a problem for you, and you may have hired someone who does your marketing. In those cases, understanding these topics in relation to your author business might very well be enough for you. Either way, you should get yourself a copy of Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur. Cross my heart, you won’t regret it.
* Prices are subject to change.
(The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you buy through these links.)