Become a Writer Today

What Is Creative Planning and How Do You Do It? With Orna Ross

July 12, 2021 Bryan Collins Season 2
Become a Writer Today
What Is Creative Planning and How Do You Do It? With Orna Ross
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Become a Writer Today
What Is Creative Planning and How Do You Do It? With Orna Ross
Jul 12, 2021 Season 2
Bryan Collins

Was your first book a bit of a passion project? If you're going to commit to writing in the long term and want to earn a living wage from it, you need a plan.

That's one of the topics I address in this week's interview with Orna Ross. She is the Alliance of Independent Authors director, and she also coaches students on creative planning.

I wanted to know more about her creative planning process and how writers can benefit from it. I started our conversation by asking her to describe her background and how she first broke into self-publishing.

If you have questions, suggestions, or feedback for the show, please tweet me at @bryanjcollins

I'd love to hear about your writing projects and what writing podcasts you're listening to at the moment.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • Are there more opportunities to self publish today
  • How creative planning works
  • Tips for what you should and shouldn't be doing 
  • How to decided what to work on next
  • Taking time out for creative play
  • Can business be fun and creative?
  • Shifting from a hobby to a business

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Show Notes Transcript

Was your first book a bit of a passion project? If you're going to commit to writing in the long term and want to earn a living wage from it, you need a plan.

That's one of the topics I address in this week's interview with Orna Ross. She is the Alliance of Independent Authors director, and she also coaches students on creative planning.

I wanted to know more about her creative planning process and how writers can benefit from it. I started our conversation by asking her to describe her background and how she first broke into self-publishing.

If you have questions, suggestions, or feedback for the show, please tweet me at @bryanjcollins

I'd love to hear about your writing projects and what writing podcasts you're listening to at the moment.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • Are there more opportunities to self publish today
  • How creative planning works
  • Tips for what you should and shouldn't be doing 
  • How to decided what to work on next
  • Taking time out for creative play
  • Can business be fun and creative?
  • Shifting from a hobby to a business

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Orna: So, the important thing is doing little a something every week on all three because, otherwise, you’re not running an integrated business, and the stress that is kind of there in the background. All the things that you’re not doing is actually interfering with the things that you are doing. So, the whole aim of this planning method is that you enjoy yourself.

Introduction: Welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, youll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan: What does creative planning look like and how can you do it?

Hi, there. My name is Bryan Collins, and welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast. This week, the topic is creative planning.

It’s a concept I learned about from Orna Ross, this week’s guest. She is the director of the Alliance of Independent Authors and she also coaches students on creative planning.

In the interview, Orna talks about how many creatives write their first book and they put all of their heart into it. Now, when I wrote my very first book, it was a collection of short stories, which I’ve talked about before on the podcast, and I got the collection ready for publication after a lot of painful months and even a year or two of rewriting it and then I published it and then no one bought it because I didn’t really promote it and I didn’t really consider who it was for. I was just happy to get something live and out into the world. I then wrote another book. This time, it was a book about productivity for writers and I wanted to get this book out into the world relatively quickly because I thought that’s what indie authors do. At the time, I called it A Handbook for the Productive Writer, published it pretty quickly, I edited it myself, and I was delighted that I was able to publish something on Amazon. Then, a couple of weeks later, I started getting e-mails from readers, which was great, but some of them started complaining about typos in the book and, well, that was a little bit demoralizing. I suppose I questioned whether I was any good at writing in the first place. So, I took the book, rewrote some of the chapters, and hired a copy editor to fix some other sections in the book and then republished it. Then later I updated the book again and renamed it to The Savvy Writers Guide to Productivity and gave it a different cover and it still sells copies today. The book isn’t perfect but it’s certainly a better digital product, because that’s what many books are, than it was when I first published it.


It was only when I wrote and published my third book that I started to take creative planning a little bit more seriously. My third book is a series of books, it’s called The Power of Creativity and, basically, I wrote a long self-help/business book about creativity. And when I finished a book, I said to myself, “I have to sell copies of this book because the last two books hadn’t sold that much,” so I started figuring out what sells books at the time, and many authors recommended releasing a series. 

So, the book was about 65,000, 70,000 words long so I broke it up into three parts and reworked each of the sections in the book so it read more like a series and published it. I published the first book for free and book 2 and 3 then were available for a couple of dollars. But I also gave readers an option of just buying the entire box set for approximately $10, depending on what country they’re in, and, to my surprise, that strategy worked. 

People still download the free book, I still get e-mails about it, and Amazon even selected it for some of their giveaways. Of course, you don’t make money on a free book, it’s more about audience building, but what I found is people would download book 1, and then they would visit my site or get in touch, because what writer doesn’t like to hear from their readers, or they would go on to buy book 2 or book 3 or they would leave reviews on some of the books in the series, which would help me build credibility and then gradually increase book sales. 

Now, I’m not saying you need to follow that approach, that you need to write a really big nonfiction book and then break it up into three parts and then give some of it away for free, but perhaps think about what you want your book to achieve and how it’s going to help you grow your creative business. 

Could you plan a little bit further ahead so that you will find more readers, make a bigger impact, or increase your book sales? Because while your first book might be a passion project, if you’re going to commit to this to something that you do over the long term, then you probably need to ask yourself questions about what do I want to work on, what am I passionate about, and how will this help my business generate an income and pay me, you know, a good wage or a good salary over the long term? 

Those are some of the topics we address in this week’s interview with Orna Ross. She also describes her approach to creative planning. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or you’re wondering what you should work on next, I’d encourage you to sign up for one of her workshops and I’ll have the link in the show notes. 

And if you enjoy this week’s podcast episode, please consider leaving a short review on iTunes or you can share the show on Overcast, Stitcher, or Spotify. And, remember, every time you share it, it means more listeners find the show which I will really appreciate. And, of course, if you’ve got questions, suggestions, or just feedback for the show or you want to let me know what you’re up to, please reach out to me on Twitter, it’s @bryanjcollins. I’d love to hear what you’re writing, what you’re doing, and the types of writing podcasts you’re listening to.

Now, let’s go over to this week’s interview with Orna Ross and I started by asking her to describe her background and how she broke into self-publishing in the first place.

Bryan: Welcome to the show, Orna.

Orna: Hi, Bryan. Thanks so much for having me.

Bryan: So, Orna, I’ve listened to some of your work online for quite some time. I know you work with Joanna Penn and you also advise authors over at the Alliance of Independent Authors as well. But before we get into any of that, would you be able to give listeners a flavor for who you are and what your background is?

Orna: Yes. So, I started out like yourself as a journalist in Ireland many, many moons ago and long before you started and I always really wanted to write a novel but that was kind of what I really wanted to do and I probably should have started there but. Anyway, I took the scenic route and then I was coming up to a very significant birthday and I decided I’d publish a novel and I did and then I have to try and find a publisher. 

It was in those days where you didn’t have the options of indie publishing and I found that an interesting experience. It took 54 rejections before I finally got a publishing deal. I found that when I went into publishing, I found it a little bit frustrating, in some ways, the creative differences with my publisher and so on and then self-publishing arrived and I started to self-publish and, as soon as I did, I thought, “This is amazing. It changes everything,” and I looked for an association to join and there wasn’t one and so, with my husband, founded the Alliance of Independent Authors back in 2012 at London Book Fair and haven’t looked back since those days. 

Self-publishing is the best thing that ever happened to me as an author and, yeah, the Alliance encourages it and advises and has lots of benefits and bonuses for our members and we also have a large community of subscribers and followers as well and, yeah, it’s just — I’m delighted to have been around for this period of time in publishing.

Bryan: Yeah, I’ve always had less success and more frustrations any time I’ve tried to go through a gatekeeper and done better when I’ve just published something myself, whether it’s a book or articles or setting up a site. So, you founded or self-published back in 2012, do you think the same opportunities exist in self-publishing today, or is it now harder?

Orna: In one way, there are more opportunities because you can get a global reach and, you know, we understand more about what it means to be in business and we understand more about what good publishing looks like and how else to do it and there are fantastic tools and technology and things that weren’t available to us and that’s going to even explode more in the next few years with AI and blockchain and lots of other things that are coming. So, in one way, there are more opportunities than ever. I

n another, though, when I started, it was a quiet field and there weren’t that many people and it was pretty easy, you know, all you had to do was put your book out there. If it was a good book, addressed properly to its readership, it had a pretty good chance of doing well. Now, you’ve to do a lot more work on the marketing and promotion to be discoverable in the first place and then to bring readers along the funnel of the reader journey, you know, to where they will actually purchase the book and eventually become a fan, so it’s both easier and harder, I think.

Bryan: I certainly agree there are a lot more opportunities for anybody who wants to make a living from their writing today. It can be a little bit overwhelming, though, and I know you help authors and writers plan what they’re going to do on a quarter or in a season or throughout the year. So, what’s your take on creative planning? How does it work?

Orna: Yes. So, I became very interested in this because it was clear that authors can self-publish and can make a living from their writing exactly as you say but not — certainly not every author is and why is that? And, you know, I’m very interested in that. 

For many years, I worked in University College Dublin there in Ireland, teaching culture and creativity to postgrads in the Women’s Studies Department there and, in that time, got a very good understanding of the creative process itself and whenever somebody is not doing something that they really want to do, there is a break in the process and so I could see that what was happening for a lot of authors is that there are so many different tasks and they are tasks that required completely different sets of skills. 

So, if you want to finish a book and to write a good book, that’s a big ask in itself, and get it finished all the way to the end, so most people that start a book don’t finish it. And then when it comes to the publishing thing, you know, to want to get a book to publishing standard, to produce it in that way, to distribute it properly, and to market and promote it, which is part of publishing, to do that well is also a big ask, but it requires a completely different set of skills.
 
And then to run a creative business, which is what an indie author does, that’s a third set of skills and, again, very different skills. So, it’s completely unsurprising that the process is breaking down for authors somewhere along the line in one of these three. So, what I wanted to do was kind of help people across that. Sometimes, it’s a resistance; sometimes, it’s an all out-and-out block and sometimes then authors get in their own way by saying, “I don’t like marketing,” or, you know, “Business is evil,” or whatever. Those kinds of long-examined belief systems can really stop people from progressing. 

So, the creative planning is an attempt to kind of strip out the three aspects of the job, which is the maker, the marketer, and the manager. Look at the different skills that are needed there. Do a little bit on each of them each week and, yes, dividing the year into quarters and giving yourself identifiable quarter-sized tasks to do rather than planning it out across time and giving yourself plenty of time, understanding that there is a process there and that processes take time so we’re always trying to push the pace, different paces are appropriate for different parts of the process, and vary the pace. 

All these kinds of things fall into the remit of creative planning and how I teach it.

Bryan: So, I kind of get how it would work for creative work, I could potentially set a goal of, “I’m going to write a first draft of my book over the next three months and I could break that down into writing a set amount of words each day,” but how would I approach it from the other two areas you described, for manager and marketing work?

Orna: Yes, so it’s not as linear. So there’s one thing about writing is it’s very countable and you’ve either done the words or you haven’t, like the B-grade words and half that might go into the bin, but at least you’ve done them and doing them so, in a sense, that’s not easy to do but easy to count and easy to measure. It does, as you say, become more challenging. I mean, with publishing, it can be a production goal so it can be that you want to get the book edited, to finish the editing process, or it can be to get the design work done, inner, outer formatting, that kind of thing. 

So publishing breaks down into seven processes itself and each of those is fairly easy to kind of tabulate and mark. Business is measured in terms of profits. So, you set yourself a profit target and you set yourself up in order to do that and assign days and assign times. So a lot of the thing about creative planning method is it’s very flexible so it isn’t like traditional, conventional business planning, which tends to be very linear and divide everything up into little boxes. 

This is more interweaving, interwoven between the different tasks as they all feed into each other, but the other thing is that it’s flexible and it allows for change and I think that’s really important. It also builds into it time for creative rest and creative play, which we can neglect as creatives so that would be part of the manager’s role to make sure that the right level of that was going on.
 
Manager would also take care of things like if you were hiring a team or people to help you with any different aspects of it or tools or whatever. So how it happens in practical terms is I’ve got 12 weeks here in the quarter and one week off is how it generally kind of falls out. I’ve got 12 weeks here, okay, that’s how much writing I’m going to do. I’m also going to set myself a publishing goal. I’m also going to set myself a management goal. So the management goal might be something like get a new tool up and running that, okay, it’s going to take me time, it’s going to be investment, I’m gonna purchase it, I’m gonna have to get used to it, but, at the end of this quarter, I am then well set forever after that because this tool is up and running. So, that would be an example. 

Or I’m going to hire a marketing assistant for five hours a month or whatever and that’s my budget for that so I have to manage the working out of that and then I have to hire them and then I have to train them in and that’s going to be the work of this quarter. So, I’m just taking two examples and I’m making them deliberately small because one of the things that indie authors do all the time is if you ask them to set a task, they’ll set a task that is way too big, the amount of time that they’ve actually allocated, the amount of time that they have to allocate to it, given all the other things they have to do so they will give you a quarter-sized task as a manager as if they had no marketeering work to do and no making work to do. 

So, it’s about getting the size fitting the three different functions and doing a little bit on all the functions each week.

Bryan: So, when you say do a little bit on all the functions each week, do you find some of your clients or students would dedicate a whole day to, let’s say, working on the business or they just set aside an hour in the afternoon to business work or marketing work and then just focus on the creative work in the morning?

Orna: Yeah, it really does vary enormously. So, it really very much depends on the amount of time the person has to allocate in the first place. So, some of them have full-time jobs and they’re trying to do all this outside of that. Some of them are working full time and then they can yet split their days. I myself do my creative work first thing and then do a lot of the management and the marketing stuff later on in the day. 

Other people decide marketing one day, you know, management Thursday, and I do all my writing in between. It doesn’t matter. The method is very, very flexible and you use it the way you want to use it so you decide how much time you’re going to allocate to what and it varies, you know? 

In this quarter, I might be really concentrating on the making because I want to get a book up and out whereas next quarter, I might be really concentrating on the marketing because I want to make sure people discover this book that I’ve just written. So, each quarter is different but the important thing is, like people will say to me, “I just want to focus on the book and then I’ll think about all that other stuff,” and all that other stuff never gets thought about.
 
So, the important thing is doing little something every week on all three because, otherwise, you’re not running an integrated business and the stress of it is kind of there in the background. All the things that you’re not doing is actually interfering with the things that you are doing. 

So, the whole aim of this planning method is that you enjoy yourself. That’s really the main thing, that you take the pressure off slightly because we’re always pushing ourselves. Stop pushing and be realistic about the amount of time that you actually do have and if that is slower than your front of mind wants to think it is, well, it’s better to be honest and real about that than to be fooling yourself and constantly not meeting your own unrealistic deadlines.

Bryan: Are there any other tips that you would have that somebody could use to figure out what not to do or what to stop doing?

Orna: Don’t do anything that isn’t 100 percent necessary. If you can, either delete it or delegate it, if you can, or else realistically diary it, that’s one thing.

The second thing is first things first so your number one thing, whatever is most important to you in that day, in that week, in that time period, in that quarter, get that done first. The most important is very rarely the most urgent so a lot of people will be screaming at you for other things and they will look after themselves, you know?

Your e-mail that you have to do will get done. Don’t do it first thing in the morning. It will be done because people will need something from you. What won’t be done that day, if you don’t turn your attention to it, is your number one thing in that day, which for most writers is writing and that’s the thing that goes by the wayside if you get too busy doing all the managerial stuff.

So, my advice for people always varies depending on where they’re at. It’s very individual. It’s very difficult to give blanket advice even though it doesn’t stop us doing it and the indie author community is coming down with blanket advice but, actually, it’s so individual so you can read a piece of advice as if it is true and authors try to help each other by giving advice from their own perspective and their own experience with full intention to be helpful but, actually, sometimes it’s deeply unhelpful because the other person is in a very different set of circumstances.

So, if you’re the kind of person who’s overbusy and you filled yourself up with lots of busyness on the managing front, then you need a completely different kind of plan and a completely different set of advice than somebody, say, who’s stuck and can’t get anything and it feels like they’re wading through treacle and everything’s taking them ages and they don’t know where they are. And then, you know, a third very common problem is somebody who’s just completely overwhelmed, like a rabbit in the headlights kind of thing, just doesn’t know what to do next because there’s so many things to do and they have no sense of what their priorities are. So, it really does vary enormously.

Bryan: So, Orna, if I’m at the start of the next quarter or getting ready to start the next quarter and I’m trying to figure out what creative project to work on, should I pick it based on what will grow the business the most or is there some other way that I should pick what to work on next?

Orna: Yeah, it’s a balance. It’s the project that pleases that and the passion. So, it’s like balancing the passion and the profit. What project will do both? That’s what you’re looking for, or what take on your project will do both? 

So, thinking always that the whole creative planning process is about that, it’s about balancing and integrating pleasure and profit. It’s about integrating the whole business and everything that you want to do, your values as a person and as a writer, but also the value that you are offering to your readers and bringing those together. 

So, if you’re leaning too heavily on the profit side, then you’re in danger kind of running dry creatively and if you’re leaning too heavily on the passion side, you’re not thinking enough about the reader, you’re thinking just about yourself and so it’s bringing those two together and, if you do, there’s a series kind of questions, creative questions that you can ask yourself and if you do those, then it’s all about getting that balance in place.

Bryan: Do you have any of those questions to hand or an example?

Orna: It’s a process that would take longer than we actually have here but it’s in my book, Creative Self-Publishing and the planners which are now coming which are associated with that book.

Bryan: Yeah, I’ll put the link in the show notes. So, you mentioned about taking time off for recharging and also for creative play. I guess I could understand how recharging would work, you know? It could be just disconnecting from the internet or maybe going on a holiday, if that was possible, but how does creative play work?

Orna: Yeah, it’s even more than — it’s not like a break from the process. It’s recognizing that creative rest and creative play are the process so they are absolutely integral to what you’re trying to do and must be factored in time wise into what you do. So, to take the rest, first of all, yes, switching off and disconnecting, but I’m talking about a more active radical kind of creative rest where you actively do practices that slow the mind. So, there’s no point in turning off the internet if the mind is still racing and you’re going 17 to the dozen in your head so it’s very much about letting those thoughts go. Creativity always rises up from moments of stillness, could be a flickering moment of just like a second, or things like meditation. Sleep is really important. 

A lot of indie authors are sleep deprived. Making sure you get enough sleep, if you are lucky enough to do this full time. Building in day sleep and like maps into the day and stuff like that is really important. And getting retreats and breaks away that are actively feeding and nurturing your creative side. 

So that’s the rest. And then the play is feeding your creative side in a different sort of way but that’s essentially anything that you enjoy doing that is kind of your definition of fun, but actively pursued and understanding that it is feeding your creativity so not being anxious about it and like feeling if you’re not “working,” nothing’s happening. 

Recognizing that that play is completely necessary for refilling the well so it might be — often it’s travel and it should be exercise, it should be away from the desk or wherever you’d normally do your work and you shouldn’t have work with you, though a notebook, taking along the notebook is often a good idea, but doing things that are deliberately different to what you do in your day job. 

So, exercise is creative play, you enjoy moving the body in any sort of way and aerobic exercise has been shown to nurture the right brainwaves for you. It could also be just taking time off, just going around your local town and hanging around the paint shop or other creative pursuits that you used to enjoy like music or whatever it might be. It’s your definition of fun and then it will be a holiday that would incorporate that so when it comes to creative rest and creative play, the advice would be that once a year, you take a break, an extended break of a week or even two for creative rest which might be a retreat, a creative retreat, and, separately, a more uptime kind of holiday which is your definition of fun, whatever that is.

Bryan: Yeah, I spend a lot of time running so I find that really helps if I get stuck or frustrated with something. I also interviewed somebody a few weeks ago and he describes taking a pottery class and how that helped him think about his poetry a little bit differently.

Orna: Yes, that’s the perfect example of what I call creative play, just as a kind of an umbrella term to pull it all in, yeah.

Bryan: You mentioned earlier on in the interview that some indie authors have some limiting beliefs around business, perhaps they think it’s a bit staid or something to avoid. So can business be creative? Can business be fun?

Orna: Yes is the short answer. Absolutely. And, look, we have to make it fun. Otherwise, why are we doing this really and truly? Because, you know, if it was all about making money, there are easier ways —

Bryan: Right, right.

Orna: — to do that. And so, you know, we’re in creative business, we are creators, we are writers, we are publishers because we’ve something else going on there. We’ve got passion. We’ve got maybe a mission as well, something we want to change in the world. Bringing that into our business and activating in our publishing the same things that we are activating in our books is really important so it makes no sense for an indie author to say they don’t like marketing and promotion, for example, because marketing and promotion these days are writing and they are very much, you know, succeeding and doing well as a publisher is very much about bringing the same things that are in your book into your publishing, into the words you use in your book descriptions and everything but also all the stuff that goes around the book, you know, if you’re on social media or whatever way you are reaching your readership, making that as creative and as interesting as possible is the only way these days to stand out.

If you’re just doing paint by numbers stuff, you’re not going to stand out. So it’s really important. And then money can be highly creative and highly enjoyable. It’s all about the relationship that you have with it and if you’ve got ideas about being, as you say, staid or boring or some people, it’s much more than that, they’re actually — they’ve been hurt by the way money is used and the profit motive and so on, you know, they’re very concerned ethically about money issues and how business, big business or not even big business but, you know, certain kinds of business have pursued profit at the expense of people and ethics and, you know, they’ve got an activist approach to it and coming from that perspective, it can be difficult to see that money can actually be a positive thing and that the relationship can be something quite different.

But if you want to succeed in creative business and you want to make a living as a writer, as an indie author, you’re going to have to improve your relationship with money and realize that you’re in control and that it’s really up to you how you define your business and how your business behaves. And, yeah, creativity can really, really help there also.

Bryan: When you think of your students or members of the Alliance of Independent Authors, is there any particular moment when they make, I suppose, a mental shift from this being, you know, a hobby or something to do on the side to actually being a creative business?

Orna: Yeah, we see it happen all the time. So, very often, people come in because maybe they’re giving it a go or they wanted to try publishing then they couldn’t get one so they decided that, you know, self-publishing was better than nothing or maybe they just wanted to self-publish one book for their family or community or something like that and then they enjoy the process and they start talking to the other authors in the group and, you know, they’re inspired by what they’re hearing and seeing what’s possible and, you know, we can tell when the light goes on because the author begins to act differently and, you know, begins to get it and understand that, “Oh, yeah, it’s about the reader and I’ve got to please the reader,” so the moment, I think, the telling moment, is when you go outside yourself.

When you write a first book, you’re very soaked into the experience of that one book and, you know, it’s such a huge thing in your life, in anyone’s life, to write a book, the first book, especially, so you’re very kind of caught up in that and when you’re finished, I always think you got a bit of like postnatal mania going on because you’re just, you know, you want to tell everyone about the book and kind of shopping the book in everybody’s — and you’re going on Twitter saying, “Buy my book, buy my book,” you know, you’re giving it to family and friends who have no interest in that kind of book and all that kind of thing is going on.

It’s very natural, it seems to happen to everybody. But then you have to get beyond that and beyond that is the second book and the second book teaches a whole different set of lessons, you know, and you’ve learned — in publishing your first book, you’ve learned an awful lot and then applying it the second time, you find the things that were very challenging in the first instance have become easier and so on and then I think most often we see it with book 3, that’s when people settle in and they recognize, “It’s not about me, it’s about the reader.”

Bryan: Yeah, and I suppose, just maybe to go full circle to what I was asking at the start of the interview, the fact that a book sells for $5 or $10, is it the case that you need to try and build up a really big back catalogue to earn a decent living from writing?

Orna: That’s one way to do it but it’s — and it’s the most visible way, it’s the way that’s taught by most in the community so that’s, you know, publish fast, publish often, get books out there and, definitely, the more stock you have as a publisher, the better and you’ve got more places to go, you can sell more rights, you can reach more readers, there’s no doubt about that with more books, but it’s only one model. 

So, we have, on our blog, 10 business models for authors and that’s one of them is selling lots of books. There are other ways to do this because some writers won’t ever write in that way, you know? That sort of publishing is better suited to genre fiction. Generally speaking, it takes longer to write, you know, the more “literary” the book is, the longer it takes to write and so, yeah, there are lots of models and lots of different things you can supplement your writing with. It’s not even about supplementing, it’s about integrating it into your creative business so every writer should, you know, have a premium product that they are selling. 

You can maybe do some teaching, you can maybe, you know, with an online course, for example so the whole movement on the internet now is about turning what were services into products and that can sit very well in an author business. There is also affiliate income maybe or, you know, there are lots of different ways, as I said. Take a look at the 10 models and it’s selfpublishingadvice.org and if you just Google “10 Business Models for Authors,” you’ll find it. There are lots and lots of different ways that you can actually make a living as a writer and sometimes it’s better not to try to be, if it doesn’t come naturally to you, we can all up our productivity usefully but if it doesn’t come naturally to you and if it means you stop enjoying it, then integrating the book sales with other products can be a much better way to do it for you.

Bryan: Yeah, I certainly found that with the non-fiction authors that I’ve interviewed, a lot of them tend to have a business around their book, like courses or coaching or public speaking or some other service that they offer and the book is maybe the first entry into their business for their customers or readers or fans.

Orna: Yes, definitely for non-fiction. I would say the book for some nonfiction writers is just the calling card, you know? They give them away in order to bring the reader to their more high-end services. But we see fiction authors doing all sorts of interesting things too from running tours, holidays in their setting, you know? 

Again, it’s about creativity. It really is about looking at what you love, what would you love to share with your readers? What would you love to share with your readers that they might actually like to pay for? Or even what would I include in my author business that isn’t actually directly about my books but is a passion of mine that other people might be interested in? So, really, there are so many options and we can get — because I think we’re a bit anxious about our publishing, we get anxious about our income and all of that kind of thing, that we can get very linear about it and we can become — I’ve heard too many people in the indie author community talking about being the worst boss they ever had, like working themselves really hard, and I really don’t think that’s why we came into this and I don’t think it’s how we should go out of it.

Bryan: Yeah, we already came into this to escape our bosses and the day job and —

Orna: That’s right.

Bryan: Orna, where can people join the Alliance of Independent Authors or where can they find out more about you or creative planning?

Orna: Thank you. And, yes, it’s allianceindependentauthors.org, it’s the longest website address in the world but if you Google “Alliance of Independent Authors,” that’s probably the easiest way to do it and I’m at ornaross.com. 

Bryan: Thanks, Orna.

Orna: Thank you, Bryan, very much.

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