Joanna Penn Interview
For those who are unfamiliar with Joanna, she’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author and a nonfiction author. She’s written 20 books and sold more than 450,000 books in 74 countries and five languages. She’s also an international professional speaker and award-winning entrepreneur and was voted as one of The Guardian’s UK Top 100 creative professionals in 2013. In addition to writing, she’s developed numerous courses, including How to Write a Novel.
Although it always seemed to me that Joanna catapulted to the top of the indie author chart, in her words, “Things start slow and build up over time. … I had nothing when I started. I’ve done everything myself. That’s me on Twitter; that’s me on Facebook.”
She built her career one book at a time, as we all do.
Joanna shared some of her productivity tips on the show. One tip involves her loose-leaf notebook. In her Filofax she schedules all her priorities six months in advance. These include podcast interviews, first drafts, edits, etc.
“Use a diary or schedule … Take your writing business as seriously as you would anything else,” Joanna said.
I asked Joanna about her theory of social karma. She said, “You get what you give. This is important in the community. It depends on the energy you put out.” If you want book sales, buy books. If you want book reviews, leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and elsewhere.
We also had a chance to discuss her How to Write a Novel course, which I plan to use to get back to my novel writing. Joanna explained that she’d spent the last ten years reading books about writing. For the course, she couldn’t cram in everything she knew, so she provided the minimal amount of information people need to write their first, second, and fifth books.
I say she still included a lot of information that I can’t wait to delve into.
“You need to know about genres, productivity, character, plot, story structure,” she said, and there’s plenty of information on these topics in her course, which happens to be quite comprehensive.
Through the course, she wanted to “help people see that the creative process is a journey and it’s a process, and we all go through similar issues.”
To learn how to write great dialogue, Joanna said she devoted time to reading screenplays and reading her dialogue out loud.
I had an opportunity to ask Joanna her feelings about the role that intuition plays in the creative life. She likes to think of intuition as curiosity. “What are you drawn toward?” Follow that curious bent and see where it takes your writing.
Whereas Joan Didion and her husband collected story ideas in a box, Joanna prefers the modern way: her smartphone. And on the topic of series, she says authors who write series make more money. But if you don’t write in a series you can always give away a short story to entice t prospective readers and persuade them to be interested in your books.
Joanna had much more to say so be sure to watch the video.
Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks, and blogger at Bowker’s Self-Published Author blog. She’s written several social media books including The Author’s Guide to Goodreads, and Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writer conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.