I completed a virtual writing course called Author 2.0. I found the course on The Creative Penn, one of the 2010 Best Writing Blogs on Write to Done – one of my favorite blogs for writers. The course involved learning about everything a writer needs to know to succeed in the rapidly changing publishing world. The Creative Penn is Joanna Penn’s contribution to the writing conversation.
As part of my writing journey, I received an hour coaching session from Joanna. We connected via Skype at 6:30 in the morning, before I headed to a full work day. She had asked that I respond to a few questions beforehand – questions about my writing challenges, goals, and experience. She also asked for examples of writing and my web address to assess my writing chops. I told her I felt overwhelmed. I identified my frustration with my lack of blog traffic, my inability to find time to write outside of work, and lack of book sales.
She broke down her recommendations with expert precision. She has built a successful independent writing career (popular blog, successful books, speaking engagements) and knows what it takes to chart a 2.0 course. Joanna is direct. Joanna understands the current publishing terrain. Joanna knows how to navigate the journey from writing around the edges of a day to writing for a living. I felt compelled to seek and take her advice.
She started the conversation by saying that the good news was that I could write. (She had checked out my book, The Stage Is on Fire.) Beyond that, she gave me a list of things to strongly consider.
She detailed specific action steps in an email that accompanied our conversation:
- Sort out your book cover – Get a new one designed to make it stand out.
- Get your ebook created.
- Work on your Amazon page – research categories and decide where you sit – e.g. Religion & Spirituality
- Research other blogs and brands you like – brainstorm and come up with what makes you stand out, how you want to grow and what you want to represent – does this fit your book now, your blog now, your future book?
- Find a new WordPress theme that suits you so your site stands out – it can be free for now, but something more expressive of your voice.
This list gave me a great deal to consider. I had to think again about what I want to say and why I want to say it. I had to define my audience. Rethinking my book cover meant I had to let go of aspects of my work that I held very close to my heart. Rethinking my blog theme made me have to chew, once again, on the flesh of my nonexistent author platform. What face did I want to show to the world?
Joanna’s wisdom reinforced my understanding that writing is a process. This definitely sounds cliche, but writing is never really done. Words can be changed. A writer’s platform evolves as an understanding of self emerges. In a world where posts go viral at lightning speed, Joanna reminded me that pace and attention are key.