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Success Stories - Taking Action

How to beat the overwhelm and sell more books




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by Nick Stephenson in Books and Writing

Book promotion, building an email list, selling books, advertising, promotion, getting your butt in your chair and actually writing that first draft… these are just a handful of the daily tasks that any successful author needs to master (whether you’re traditionally published or self-published – doesn’t matter).

The problem is – and always has been – when your primary skill is “writing”, how do you juggle all the other aspects of business that you need to consider without suffering from Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS – totally a thing).

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out. It’s normal. Everyone goes through it. But what separates the successful authors from everyone else is how they deal with it. 

The path to business growth is never a straight line upwards:

Book Promotion + Business Growth Reality

You will absolutely hit road blocks. You will get stressed. You will have days when you wonder why the world is out to get you.

The real work comes when you learn how to dig yourself out and get your business back on track. At first, it can seem like a mountain of work – and it is – but with the right approach, you can break down the work into actionable chunks and focus on activities that actually move the needle (instead of trying to feel “busy”).

Today, I want to share some experiences from Romance author Tracey Pedersen. Tracey pushed through her own stress, buckled down, and built a new life for herself and her family – fueled by her writing (and a local McDonald’s restaurant).

In the space of one year, Tracey:

  • Grew her email list from a few hundred readers to over 10,000 subscribers
  • Developed a consistent word-count of 3,000 words per day
  • Designed a consistent book promotion schedule
  • Wrote and published 16 books
  • Gained hundreds of great Amazon reviews
  • Built and grew full-time writing career

If you want to find out how she did all that – read on…

Take Action, Follow Through, Go Far!

By Tracey Pedersen

Are you a brand-new author? Maybe you’ve been around for a while? Perhaps you published your book/s years ago and just can’t seem to get a foothold with an audience? No matter where you are in your publishing journey, if you’d like to know one of the secrets to be more successful, read on.

I wasn’t always a romance author. My first foray onto the internet was with a travel blog.

In 2012 I talked my husband into a huge adventure. We’d quit our jobs, sell all our belongings, and pull our youngest kids out of school to set off on a twelve-month trip around the world! We thought it would be fun to document this adventure, and our travel blog was born. I loved that blog and put a lot of effort into learning all there was to know about blogging.

I joined lots of groups about travel, and blogging, and at one point even had a plan to start an online business, so I started to hang out with a lot of online entrepreneurs. Over time I noticed there seemed to be one easy sign that indicated which people would achieve their goals and which ones would struggle.

I see the exact same signs in the self-publishing world and I’ve made it my mission to spread the message far and wide ever since I worked it out.

So, what do successful people do that others do not? No, it’s not luck!


Successful people take action. They follow through.

When successful people say they’ll do something, you can rely on them to do it. Their results, when they consistently follow through, are far above those who don’t.

The successful people always seem to be moving forward, even if it is in baby steps. They get book deals. Their books release and have a low rank on the first day. Because they do things in small bites and never in a flurry of last-minute activity, they make their success look effortless. They continually operate at a high level and their output is top quality. Often, the rest of us are in awe of their achievements. We want a fraction of that success for ourselves.

Sounds familiar, right? If you can make taking action part of your psyche, i.e. who you are, you’ll be on the road to success, too. Be honest with yourself and analyse if you truly put in the effort required. Many people don’t and then defend the position that a service or a system doesn’t work for them.

Have you ever seen a post from someone asserting that there’s no money to be made in Amazon ads? Or that they are saturated? Lately I’ve seen plenty. When I asked what they’ve tried so far, in most cases those people haven’t studied what to do, have run a handful of ads and then turned them off when they spent a bit of money. With a lot more effort those same people might have discovered that the ads do work, after all. It fascinates me that very often when you try to help someone move forward they offer many reasons why they can never achieve the same results. It concerns me that newer author read those opinions and take them as fact.

How many times have you listened to a Podcast episode in the car and known in your gut that the information you were hearing was career-changing? How many times have you gone home and listened again, with a notepad, and then put those tips into practice? Or even pulled the car over and made notes immediately? I have! Listening to new information won’t change your life. Implementing what you learn is the key to seeing a difference.

Who’s planned to update the keywords on their Amazon book? You get all enthused, you buy the recommended software and do two or three searches on the first day. Then you work out that it takes a bit of effort. Maybe it’s confusing and you need to watch a video again, or try to understand what the person is talking about. So, you put it aside and plan to attack it again tomorrow night. But tomorrow comes and you feel like writing, so you do that.

Then it’s the weekend and you have family commitments. Before you know it, three months have passed and you haven’t updated a single keyword. You don’t want to bother now because the searches you did are probably out of date and you have to start from scratch. Plus, you’ve forgotten how to do the searches anyway and would have to learn it all over again. Six months later you find yourself commenting in a Facebook group that keywords have never been that successful for you.

I’m not judging how anyone runs their business. I just want to emphasise that if you take action, your chances of succeeding are much, much higher than if you don’t. Let me share some specific examples from my own author and book promotion experience where taking action led to great outcomes.



I’m as guilty as the next person of buying the latest, greatest course, downloading the info to my hard drive or filing away the login details in an email folder, and never getting around to viewing the information. Shiny object syndrome is real people! A well-written sales page can make you feel like the course you just discovered will be the answer to all your problems. I honestly believe that most will be, too. If you just do the work.

When I purchased the Your First 10,000 Readers training course, I promised myself that I’d make sure I did every single step to the best of my ability. I was ready for my books to find their audience.

I’m one of those people who need to stay focused on a plan, or I forget about it in a couple of days! To make sure this didn’t happen, I made myself a plan to watch at least one video each week. I wrote it in my planner and added it to my to do list. Then I followed through and did it.

As I worked through the course, I took notes and made time to implement what I’d learned. I updated my Mailchimp account, planned a week off work to write a magnet to give away to my subscribers, and I joined the first group romance author promotion I came across. I updated the back matter of my books and put a reminder in my phone for every quarter to do it again. I also made sure I participated in the Facebook group attached to the course.

As a result of all this activity, in my first year I grew my mailing list from a few hundred, to just over ten thousand. In the second year my list had grown to just over sixteen thousand when I checked my numbers on New Year’s Eve. (Yes, it’s exciting at my house each New Year’s! Party central!)

One of the greatest outcomes was a special group of author friends I made. We’ve formed a tight little group who support and encourage each other to keep going. Some days the only Facebook group I visit is the 10K Angels. If I hadn’t been active in the course, this never would have happened.

Through the connections I made I was also invited to participate in a group book promotion (a boxed set for Christmas), which helped me find new fans as well as meeting some other fun authors. I was finally getting a foothold and starting to make money.

Since I started writing full time there are no courses that I’ve purchased and not made full use of. I’ve watched every video, completed every action plan and watched the benefits follow.



Writing is the part of this whole self-publishing business that I find easiest. I imagined it would be the hard part, but for me, it’s a nice escape. When I wrote my first and second books I was still working a full-time job as a warehouse manager. I had decent hours at work, but my round trip commute was over an hour and a half, plus I brought work home every night. If I was going to get a book written, I needed to use my time wisely.

Instead of moaning about having no writing time I took action to make sure I could get it done. I started getting up an hour earlier and driving to work in the dark. I took up residence in a local McDonalds a few mornings a week and wrote before work. This actually gave me more than an hour to write because I missed the peak hour traffic by leaving so early. So, my extra hour became an hour and twenty minutes.

For me that was fifteen hundred words every morning. To up my productivity I repeated the process in the afternoons. Instead of driving home in peak hour, I drove to a point where the traffic normally backed up and then pulled into either a McDonalds or a KFC and wrote for another hour. When it was time to head home, I’d skipped the end of day traffic too.

At the time, I thought I was very clever and I didn’t even realise what I was doing. In hindsight, I made small changes and they gave me huge rewards. Most days I added three thousand words to my book without even switching on my computer at home. These good habits, combined with quitting my job, resulted in me publishing sixteen books in just 12 months. I’m still amazed at that number!


Social Media

Have you ever visited a Facebook page and decided the person or business can’t be that great because they only had 89 page likes? I have. Do you look at your own social media numbers and despair that they’ll ever grow? Taking baby steps and doing something instead of nothing will change this for you.

We all start at zero and with a little effort can quickly move into the thousands. I decided to work on my following in the middle of 2016 after another author challenged me to keep track of my numbers. I set myself a goal for the end of the year and set about achieving it.

First, I joined a book promotion giveaway with other romance authors at the time that had a Facebook like as part of the entry conditions. I quickly added a few hundred followers to my page. Then I added my social media to the bottom of my newsletter template. The next time I emailed the newsletter I asked them all to follow me. I was shocked when a few more hundred followers were added.

We all assume that because people are on our list that they’ll already be following us on other channels. It’s not true and it’s our job to help our readers keep track of us on all the platforms they use. The same applies if you want to increase Bookbub follows, Amazon follows or Twitter followers. Ask people to follow you, make those places interesting to readers and keep promoting them every month. Over a year those few people who join you here and there will add up.

Right now, my Facebook likes are a touch over 2500 people so I’m sure that’s more than just my mum and the family cat! I know when a new reader does manage to find me, through all the changes Facebook likes to implement, that they’ll glance at that number and know they’re in good company. I can’t wait until it shows over 10,000. I may have a heart attack that day!



Urgghh, I can hear you groan! Do you feel like you will never get the hang of Amazon ads or Facebook advertising? Have you dipped your toes in the water and then run screaming to bed because it’s three in the morning, again, and you still don’t know what you’re doing? I hear you! Once again, though, you just need to break up this task and attack it, one bite at a time.

I made some Amazon ads early on. I spent a lot of money and didn’t see spectacular returns. I did see returns, though. After a few months of turning the ads off every time I’d had enough, or every time my credit card declined, I remembered my new habit of always taking action and I resolved to master those suckers.

What did I do?

I found someone to follow who was having success with book promotion through advertising. I bought their book because they didn’t have a course. I made notes from that book and then set about implementing them. I experienced more success than I’d been having, but it still wasn’t as successful as I’d heard they can be. I began analyzing the ad data every day for thirty minutes or so. Then I was brave and I messaged someone I knew was succeeding and asked them to help me (thank you Jean Grainger!) A few weeks later I can happily report that the sales of the book I’m experimenting with have doubled.

Book promotion - boxed set

One morning I woke up and my book was ranked less than twelve thousand in the Amazon store, down from two hundred thousand several weeks ago. That’s a decent improvement for following through and taking the baby steps to be successful. If I’d given up after the first few tries, there’d have been no chance of success.

So, that’s what I’ve managed to achieve, but what should you do if you want to take action?

First, don’t discount how far you can go or how brave you can be. I’ve had people tell me they can’t approach others to do joint promos because they’re not a ‘go getter’ type of person. Some have refused to send follow up emails when they don’t receive a reply to an enquiry because they don’t want to be pushy.

Once a Facebook conversation went on for days with one person defending their stance that you can’t write a 50K novella in a month, and that they especially didn’t have time. I was tempted to copy and paste their words and give them a count of how many they’d written just prolonging this argument, but I behaved myself. If that same person put the effort into writing their book, they’d have had a quarter of it done!


There’s no one way to take action.

If you’re not a fast writer, then your activity might focus on marketing the books you have while you work on the next one. If you write quickly, you might choose to put your efforts into the writing process and find you have less time available to be active in promoting. We’re all different. All our books are different. One of the fascinating things about self-publishing is that you really do need to test what works for your books. That means being active.

If you want to start taking action more often, I want to help you start today. Let me share the steps that I use to make sure I follow through. It’s a simple list and these steps can be applied to anyone, not just to authors.

  1. Make a plan. I write my goals down so I know what I’m aiming for. I also give every goal a date. I use a 3-monthly planner (or a 100-day period – thank you John Lee Dumas!)
  2. Break up the tasks. Want to write a 50K novel this month? Break it up into 1667 words a day. That doesn’t mean you must write every day, but if you know your goal and what you’ve done so far, you can tell at a glance whether you’re ahead or behind. I know that I can write 1200 words an hour if I use sprints. That makes it easy to break up my writing goals. I won’t be overwhelmed if I know I only need an hour and a half a day to complete my book by the end of the month.
  3. Write it down. Buy a whiteboard. Keep a written list on the fridge. Stick pink and blue sticky notes to the mirror in your bathroom, or put a new screensaver on your laptop. Whatever it is for you, write down what you want to achieve and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day. I have a to-do list which I update every Sunday, as well as a planner made specifically for writers. I also keep a list on my phone and in the new year I invested in a whiteboard and pin board. No matter where I am, at some point every single day I’ll see the list of things I want to get completed.
  4. Limit your input: If you’re new to publishing and even remotely connected online, you’re most likely being bombarded with so much information you can hardly breathe. There are dozens of new blog posts every day and hundreds of posts in various Facebook groups sharing information and opinions on new and old publishing strategies. Some of this information is excellent, some of it is more opinion than fact. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed with so much information, that you give up.
  5. Keep a ‘done’ journal, or a success list: Or maybe one of those big jars where you write your successes down on a slip of paper. Should you get to the end of the month and you haven’t finished your book, or got all the formatting done of old titles, scheduled a book promotion, or whatever it is you wanted to achieve, you’ll still have a list of everything you did do. I personally love to see a list that shows on any given day I completed three or four tasks that I would forget about over a year. Writing a blog post or updating the back matter of a book that’s a year old might seem insignificant, but if those things bring you new subscribers, book sales, or new fans, they were important and should be celebrated.
  6. Learn on the go: The best way to ensure you take action is to learn new things only as you need to implement them. Does a doctor learn how to do brain surgery in his third month of medical school? Do builders learn the intricate details of laying a house slab on their first day? Nope. There’s a structure to their learning and self-publishing is the same.
  7. Trick yourself into taking action: I learnt this years ago from a housekeeping website, would you believe! Flylady says if you get up and get dressed and put your shoes on, you’re more likely to feel motivated to do what you need to do than if you sit around in your pyjamas half the day. I implemented her advice and it turns out, she was right. Every weekday I get up and drive my sixteen-year-old to school. He doesn’t need a lift since we live super close, but it gets me up and dressed. It means I have my shoes on and I’ve been outside in the fresh air for the thirty-minute round trip. When I get home, I’m awake and ready to work and it’s only nine o’clock. When he’s on holiday I’m lucky to get out of bed before eleven. Taking him to school is my way of tricking myself into taking action.
  8. Celebrate your success: I plan rewards for myself. They’re nothing spectacular but they are specifically things that I wouldn’t usually do because I’d feel that I was taking time away from my author work. One reward is going to the movies on a weekday. If I meet my writing goal for the month, I take myself to a movie the next week on my own. If I meet my writing goal more than five days early for the month, I book myself a massage. These rewards are in the back of my mind when I consider peeking at my social media accounts instead of working on my latest book. Let me just say, I see a lot of movies, while I only manage a couple of massages a year!

I hope I’ve inspired you to consider your own activity levels so far in your author business. This has turned into quite a long article but the most important thing you can take away is that you can be successful. You can have the same results as others. With a plan, concerted effort, and a never-give-up attitude your baby steps can propel you further than you imagined when you started this whole adventure.

You just have to take action.


Tracey Pedersen is an Australian author who’s finally accepted that she is meant to write, write, write! In 2016 she released her first eight romance novels as well as three non-fiction titles and six books under a separate pen name. Now writing full time, and fighting the urge to write every second of the day, she loves travel, crocheting, scrapbooking, replying to reader emails and spending WAY too much time on Facebook!




One theme that comes up again and again in Tracey’s story – and one that I like to highlight whenever I can – is taking action.

It’s easy to “plan” for success, but quite another thing to sit down and put the work in. You’ll also notice Tracey doesn’t talk about “hacks” or “tricks” – or “one weird strategy that yada yada yada…”.

The reality of growing a business as an author and publisher isn’t sexy. It’s hard work, but it’s worthwhile work. But once you’ve built a foundation to your business (eg – a way to generate traffic, turn traffic into fans, and sell using automated tools) you can focus on activities that make a huge difference to both your business and your lifestyle.

If you’d like to learn more about the book promotion strategies Tracey used to grow her email list to 10,000+ readers in a year (and get her books onto multiple bestseller lists) you can register for one of our online workshops – The Three Step Formula to Find Your First 10,000 Readers right here (at a time that suits you).


In the meantime, I want to hear from you in the comments. Tell me – what strategies have you tried to cut through the noise and actually get some work done? Do you have a local McDonald’s (or similar) to hide out in? How do you get your Butt in Chair hours for the day?

Leave a comment below!




  1. Nick Stephenson says:

    Drop your questions or comments in here – Tracey and I will try to answer as many as we can 🙂

    1. Rowanna Green says:

      Having spent a year watching Tracey turn from an awe-inspiring writer into a bloomin’ machine, I can verify that her methods absolutely work.
      Congrats, Tracey, you are my hero.

    2. Bronwyn says:

      Hi Tracey! Excellent article – thanks! (And glad that it was as long as you made it) A quick question – where/how do you budget time for editing? If I write 1,500 words/day, when do I edit this work without losing momentum? Thanks so much!

      1. Tracey Pedersen says:

        That’s a very good question Bronwyn and I suspect we all struggle with it. I used to just bang out the draft and not edit a single word until the end. Lately I’ve been reading over the previous day’s writing and doing a quick polish but I notice this cuts my word count right down. I’m going to go back to the old way from February – in that case I gave myself two days (or the time I could spare on those two days) to polish it up and then let it loose on the editor. When her changes come back I do those over another two days. I just schedule it. I found sometimes I edited stuff that she took out completely so I saved time by sending it to her first. Also, I liked her telling me about some of my repetitiveness so I could add it to my list and start improving. Hope this helps a bit!

        1. Bronwyn says:

          Thanks for your answer, Tracey – and yes, it did help! it’s good to know we have the editing “issues” in common. I have been considering not doing the developmental editing myself and sending it out instead; so your comments about line up with what I was thinking. Thanks!

    3. Christine Light says:

      Thanks again Nick for great info. I must admit frustration as I deal with the techy stuff of everything I do with my blog, my online courses, and working on my second book. I find technical challenges waiting like alien demons to overwhelm me. This article has helped me to refocus on my funnel and my goals for this year as I put everything together. I struggle a bit with getting everything “perfect” and realizing it never is. Thanks Nick and Tracy for helping me to get past “perfect” to “just do it.”
      The progress really is just one step at a time.

  2. Michael Dickson says:

    Great read Tracey!
    You mentioned you found someone who was having success in marketing and you bought their book. What’s the name of the book? Feel free to email it to me if its not something you want out in the open.
    Thank you and good luck with your future success!

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      Thanks Mike! I don’t believe in PM’s! I think all information should be freely shared so we can succeed together 🙂 The book was Mastering Amazon Ads by Brian Meeks. I see it recommended everywhere now that it’s been out for a while. It’s heavy on the analysis, but it’s a great place to start. If you buy it, be sure to join the Facebook group recommended inside. Good luck!

  3. Francois Houle says:

    2017 was a busy year. In January I wrote 2 novellas that complement my first novel (published in 2015 with a handful of sales) to use as my permafree and reader magnet. Waited 2 months for my editor to be available only to have her want to charge way too much. A few weeks later I’d found a new editor who turned out to be awesome. Then I decided to learn to do my own covers using training from Derek Murphy (I’d worked with 2 professional designers but was left frustrated and unhappy with the covers). So 2-3 months later I had my own covers which fit my genre (I don’t write the typical genre falling into that contemporary or literary fiction category). Finally in early October 2017 my 2 novellas are uploaded to all the retailers. A few downloads of the permafree but no signups from the reader magnet. On Dec 9 I begin Facebook ads and as of Jan 29, 2018, I have a grand total of 56 emails, which is about 10% of everyone that has clicked on my ad (according to FB) so percentage wise it seems good but money wise I’ve spent close to $200 CAD so it seems pricey. Maybe the blurb on my landing page isn’t enticing enough. One book a year is my goal. Life is busy but I know I’ll get there eventually. I’ve listened to the 10k modules several times and have applied as many of the principals as I understand them, but I admit I’m a bit frustrated. Sometimes I feel I might have gotten to the party too late. Regardless, I’ll keep working at it. Retirement is coming in the next 5-7 years and this is what I want to do with my time. Earlier would be nice too. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Nick Stephenson says:

      Good work Francois! If you’re looking to increase subscribers, definitely examine the steps involved in your funnel before spending $$$ on ads. Get the funnel perfect FIRST, then you’re going to get more bang for your buck. Never too late for an audience-growing party 🙂

    2. Tracey Pedersen says:

      Good on you for sticking with it Francois! An inexpensive way to grow your list is through group promotions with other authors. Choose ones that are genre specific so you don’t end up with people who would never read your book and then sign yourself up. Most of them are $20-$40 dollars and you can get a lot of subscribers this way. They won’t all stay on your list and they won’t all engage, but the ones that stick around will be people who enjoy what you write. I found that the more people that joined my list, the more enthusiastic I was to find more. It kind of kicked me along. If you’re not sure about your blurbs, compare them to the books in the top 100 of your genre and see where you need to make changes. It’s time consuming but it really helps. Good luck!

  4. Lauren says:

    Here’s the thing…. I took action and wrote a 50k novel in 6 weeks. I’m a first-time fiction writer and I’m STILL mired down in editing, four months later. I’m a student of both your 10K and Story Engines, but there is little to no help on editing “how to”. It would be great to have some information on how to self-edit in a way that is orderly and can help me progress through the manuscript.

    1. Nick Stephenson says:

      Lauren, what specifically is the issue with the edit? Self-editing shouldn’t really take that long, assuming you wrote a strong first draft. If there are larger structural issues, then you might want to revisit your outline and scene list to make sure it all hangs together. Also remember you can’t get away from needing professional help once you’ve eliminated all the typos, bugs, and other “little things”. If you’re in the Story Engines program you can get help in the private Facebook group too.

    2. Tracey Pedersen says:

      Hi Lauren. Congrats on writing those 50K in 6 weeks – way to go, girl! It could be time to send that sucker to an editor to get some feedback, since this is your first book. Sometimes I agonize over a book and how rubbish it is, but then my editor gets hold of it and loves it. As far as self editing, I think it gets easier with each book you write. I have a list of things I check in each book now – did I say ‘at least’ 1000 times? Have I written ‘felt’ in every paragraph? Replace ‘something, nothing, anything’ with words that have meaning. Have I repeated obvious words in the same paragraph? It’s literally a Word doc that reminds me to check all the problems I usually end up with on a first draft. Over time there are less and less of these in the final copy but it really helped me to make it better before the editor got hold of it. I hope this helps 🙂

      1. Bronwyn says:

        And thanks, did read your comments above on “how” to edit – just need to know when you fit it in with writing? Assume this is an additional task you add to your goals along with promos and reviews and then allocate time for it? Thanks again for such an inspiring article (and thanks to Nick for guest posting this!!)

    3. Mark says:

      I’ve never seen anyone anywhere deal with this. I spend years stuck at this stage.

    4. Ada says:

      Lauren, I can share 2 tips that I hope help. One has worked really well for me, and the other I’ve just read recently.

      The first tip is, print your book out, open a blank document, and type everything back in off the printed pages. It’s laborious, but I’ve found it incredibly effective for catching anything from ambiguous phrasing to flat characterisation.

      The second tip is to make a list of what you want to edit for – theme, pacing, plot, character voices, etc., whatever. Just decide on 4-5 things that (a) are really important to you, or (b) you maybe don’t think are your strengths.

      Then, you pick an editing focus, assign a colour to it, and start reading your manuscript for just that focus. Meaning, you read the entire thing through, paying attention to nothing but how well you’re doing that one thing. Then you switch colours and do it all over again, but this time paying sole attention to the next focus, and so on. (And idk why I called the previous method laborious!) You might end up with a maze of edits at the end, but this stuck with me because it just sounds really worth it.

      Fingers crossed!

    5. Selene says:

      I find that far too many places speak about editing and omit revision, which is an essential skill. Sure, if your first draft is already in very good shape, the revision is fast, but usually something pops up that you hadn’t thought of upfront. Especially if it’s a more complex book, or your first book. The more POV characters, the more subplots and the more worldbuilding, the longer a book will take to finish simply because there are more things you have to juggle.
      (Just to be clear, with revision here I mean big picture stuff that a developmental editor would look at, such as pacing, character development, plot and so forth.)

      Holly Lisle has the only course I’ve come across that even attempts to address revision. It’s called “How to revise your novel”, I suggest you check it out.

  5. Catherine Green says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! I have been studying the 10k course, learning from fellow students, and doing my best to work out a formula that works for me. After two years of slog, I do believe that I am finding my way. While my mailing list is still small, it is growing at a significant rate, and more importantly, is highly engaged.

    I am now in the process of cleaning up and relaunching my old novels, and working on new ones. I am even preparing to journey into non-fiction writing, using material from my pagan lifestyle blog. The possibilities are endless, and I feel positive and enthused to keep going.

    For me the best formula is to focus on one subject at a time. For example, I have taken a break from writing in order to network, promote and grow my readers (but I still update my blogs 3 times per week). Then I will focus on writing more solidly, and vice versa. It works for me, and I feel more in control of my developing career. I might chop and change month by month, depending on seasonal promotions and the work/life balance.

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      It’s so important to have those subscribers engaged, Catherine. I’ve noticed I get a lot more organic subscribers from my most popular romantic comedy series than I do from all the other books combined. I plan to write a new magnet soon to entice even more of those readers in. Sounds like you’re on the right track with focus. I have to put sticky notes up to remind me what I’m focussing on – otherwise, I go off on a tangent and have to drag myself back to the task at hand.

  6. IreAnne says:

    Very encouraging experience! The last month feels like I’ve been in a constant state of the “home stretch” lol. I keep setting dates for my goals and having to push them back because of third-party editors, cover artists, formatting, etc. but one thing that is helping me continue to take action is writing or editing each day and/or writing and scheduling blog posts in preparation for launch day. I also have pre-scheduled alarms on my phone to help me keep track of my time and move to the next item scheduled for the day. I even schedule prep time for meals in addition to meals (lol) because I lose the time when I’m engrossed and then if I don’t eat on time, health goes down hill, and writing out the window. I’ve trained myself to sift through emails and focus on the ones that add value. I love hearing experiences like this because it keeps reminding me that success is possible if I keep moving forward steady on 🙂

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      My goodness, Ireanne. I love those phone reminders! You are my hero!!

  7. Ja'Nese Dixon says:

    Congrats Tracey!!!

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      Thanks Ja’Nese!

  8. Tracy Krauss says:

    This is just excellent! I recently went back to work after a prolonged health issue and I made very detailed plans to do my writing in the mornings before i went to work in the afternoons. It was a good plan – except I was having trouble getting out of bed or if I did, I ‘frittered’ away the morning with other household chores etc.Then I had a choice to switch my ‘day job’ from the afternoons to the mornings. Now I find that I am ‘up’ and out of the house in the morning which means I am so much more productive for the rest of the day.
    This article is very inspiring.

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      I did something similar years ago when I had a job that started at 1pm. I had to implement the ‘getting up and getting dressed before the kids went to school rule’. Then I used a Pomodoro timer and only let myself do chores in the 5 minute breaks. (Who needs chores anyway?) I’m glad you’ve found what works for you 🙂

  9. Tracy Barnhart says:

    What an inspirational post from someone with an awesome name! I’m going to try the McDonalds trick. I work from home and run another business and can always find other things that “need to get done” but don’t really need to be done right then.

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      We truly have the best name in the world! Take your headphones to McDonalds. I can usually concentrate without them, but some interesting people go there every day and sometimes you need to block them out! I’ve got some excellent story ideas from people watching there, though, and several times I’ve killed someone in my book because someone in the store was annoying me! My local Maccas just implemented a 45-minute parking rule – probably to keep me from sitting there for four hours. But I outsmarted them, now I go there on the tram! 🙂 🙂

  10. Sheree Subakti says:

    I found the article very inspiring Tracey. I do have ideas for non-fiction books in the future, but have been concentrating on childrens factual books at present. Balboa Press are interested in my kids books, but after reading so much information (probably too much) I am now so confused. Am I better to go with a publishing company or self publish?
    Regards, Sheree

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      I think this is a very personal decision, Sheree. A lot of people ask which they should ‘choose’, not realizing that Trad publishing really needs to ‘choose’ you. 🙂 It seems like you’re on the right track, though, with interest already shown. As long as you go in with your eyes open, knowing that you’ll be doing just as much work with a trad publisher as far as marketing and getting your name out there goes, you’ll be fine. Remember, if you choose to go with the company, you can publish other books yourself whenever you want. You’re not locked in. Just make sure of the details of your contract. You want to be able to have the freedom to publish whatever you want without the contract saying you can’t do certain things. Some good legal advice is recommended if you’re lucky enough to receive an offer. Good luck!

  11. Ryan Naylor says:

    Nick, I enjoy your emails and the humor in them. The image in this one, with the success arrow, made me think of Goofy flying a plane. I imagine he sees himself as a flying ace, but to anyone on the ground would be running for their lives! Thanks for the solid content.

    For the article and success in general, yes, taking action is vital. But taking action is not the ‘secret’. No matter who you are – high-level CEO, athlete, entertainer, etc. – it’s who you are BEING that connects to right action. Most people who succeed AND fail, are primarily focused on outside action, rather than internal action. (inspired action) I guarantee, behind every success is a person who had a foundation of self-belief, whether they were aware of it or not.

    If taking action and following steps were the solution, there’d be tons more successful people. Success is based on how you are being, first, then aligning yourself with inspired action from that point.

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      This is an interesting perspective, Ryan, and I agree, personal development is right up there on the list of things everyone should practice. Self-belief could well be what drives people to know they can achieve their goals. I certainly never hesitate to tell people I’m awesome! Haha!

      I do know people who can quote me passages from the latest self-help books and like to insist I need to go to a personal development seminar to take myself to the next step, though. They talk about self-belief and being this or that, but they never write the book they’ve planned. They never start the business they’ve mapped out on paper for a month and then put aside as they chase the next thing. There’s a lot of talk, without any results. Perhaps they haven’t fully embraced their own self-belief, even though it appears they have.

      I really do think you can be successful just by taking concerted action over time, but it’s very hard to be successful if you never take the leap.

      1. Ryan says:

        It’s not about personal development or quoting things from books. Let me know if you can take action without a desire or emotion, I’d be curious to know what the action is.

        Here’s an example: I can walk to the ocean from where I live – concerted action. Yet, if I have no desire, no reason, no internal spark – then, I won’t do it.

        Here’s another example: I’ve been wanting to write a book for years. I’ve taken action over and over by starting to write, mind-map, create outlines, start blogs, etc., but, I have yet to write a book. Why? Why is it that my action fades? If my actions are not in line with my desire, or more precisely, my desire is not in line with the actions I take, then, it won’t matter. It’s about taking the right action for where I am in my process of wanting to write a book. And that action just might be understanding what drives my desire to write a book. Then, from there, I may be ready to mind-map or create an outline.

        Thanks for your time.

  12. Will Patching says:

    Cracking article, Tracey – thank you (and Nick, as ever). My own efforts and results are inconsistent so I am inspired by your words and will grab Brian’s book. I’m still struggling with the balance between marketing and writing, finding the results of the former determine my motivation for the latter. The last four months of last year I suffered a real downer as Amazon wiped my rankings during a book launch (for three of my books simultaneously), and although sales were higher than ever, thanks to a Bub for the freebie and promos for 99c for another trilogy, the new book failed to hit the hot new releases etc and the whole campaign fizzled. Took me until December to get my head back together!

    Marketing is my weak spot – hates it with a passion, I do! I’d already concluded that I needed a bigger ‘product range’ having started implementing the 10k course with just two novels and an audiobook I recorded myself two years ago, and now have five such novels (no more DIY audio – not enough bang for bucks). I plan to complete three full-length novels this year too, which is not much by comparison to your amazing results. Mine are usually long, at 105-127k words, with complex plots and lots of character POVs etc – I write what I like to read and have trained my readers to expect that length too – rod/back etc…. I’m sure a weightier backlist will tip me over into a viable level of sell through making my marketing spend more worthwhile. I take my hat off to you – I can write a lot of words quickly, producing a decent partially edited first draft of 100k+ in a month or so of concentrated effort, but I spend a lot of time thinking about concepts, plots etc beforehand. I could write more, but I find my writing feels repetitive although I try to weed out as much as possible in a similar fashion to the process you mention. It’s more about style – I have an author voice but sometimes the things that make my writing unique feel overused (to me – no complaints from readers, yet). I need to get past that to really up the ante. I’ll publish c360k words this year, a 50% increase on last year, so not too shabby though not in your league. Fantastic results! Well done you, and thanks again for sharing.

  13. Steven V Turner says:

    Brilliant timing on this post. I am just at that “saturated brain sponge” point in my fledgling author career and I really needed to read this. I feel as though I’ve just had a good long talk with an old friend who’s helped to put me back on track.
    Many thanks Tracey,

  14. Jami Albright says:

    This blog post is crammed full of gold! I’m so impressed at all you’ve accomplished, Tracey. You are my hero!!!!

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      Awww… thanks Jami. We can found the mutual admiration society!! 😛

  15. Raheemah says:

    This is an interesting article which I enjoyed reading. For me, I work at an 8-5 job and looking at going full time writing in some years- I’ve given myself 5 years from 2017.
    I have a fiction novel I’m rewriting with my editor and it’s coming out beautifully but I want to improve my list from 60 where it is now to 1000 before launching my novel.
    I’ve gone through Nick’s magnet article but i didnt get the hang of putting my magnet as permafree on amazon. I will really like to do that. I’ve bought a course- Instant bestseller by Tim Grahl and reading along as I implement.
    Thank you.

  16. Joanna Homer says:

    Well done Tracey, a great inspiration!

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      Thanks Joanna!!

  17. Madison Michael says:

    Thank you Nick and Tracey for sharing this story. I bought 10K readers last year, started it and then shiny object next pulled me away. Six months later I am right where I started, and started and started but never finished. Great advice, great motivation and all presented in a way that makes me know I can do this too. I am putting on my shoes and setting my 90 day goals – Thank you!

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      You got this Madison. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get your momentum right. With your shoes on, how can you fail? 🙂

  18. Karen says:

    Thanks for the post! I make goals for myself and stick to them. My problem is promotion. I prefer writing. I have Nick’s course but haven’t finished it because I’ve had publishing deadlines. I plan to get back to it once these obligations are met and build my email list so I can self publish a new series.

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      I know what you mean Karen. Who knew that writing would end up being the easy part? A great way to start it to join some group promos with other authors. I joined Love Kissed Book Bargains early on for romance and I swear, it was life changing! Good Luck!

  19. Rex says:

    What a terrific blog post and good for you. Its very impressive.
    My question if you had a moment is to do with quantity. Do you think the main niche for self publishing is to churn out lots of books cheaply? Could anyone survive doing only one or two per annum? Without a big publisher supporting? Love nicks course and yes I haven’t been through it methodically. Guilty!

    1. Tracey Pedersen says:

      There’s no doubt that writing a lot of books gives you a great chance of doing well, Rex. However, you still have to market and you still need great covers, blurbs and the books still need to be great quality. You might move a lot of the first and second books if you start publishing quickly, but readers have so many choices these days that the book has to make them want to read the next one. I know for a fact that you can make decent money writing just one or two great books a year, but that means taking a lot of time to get your funnel right, networking with other authors and mastering ads of some sort. Check out Jami Albright’s books on Amazon – there’s two and they’ve held the awesome rank you’ll see from the first week or two of release. She’s done amazingly well and that there is the proof that if you get the marketing right and have a book people love, it will continue to do well for you.

  20. David Bokolo says:

    I am thrilled at this blog, Tracy. I am guilty of most of the weakness and complaints you have made here. I am so happy for how you got through all of this to be where you are. I feel so overwhelmed with all the emails and ebooks I have downloaded, thus I could not make time to read them and take the required action. I think I’ii just have to go and dig up all the materials I have written and plan a schedule for them as you have suggested. Thanks, Nick.

  21. Shane A. Mason says:

    Great to Read Tracey and Nick.
    I have dipped my toes in many waters with limited success last year and signed up for a handful of courses – relishing soon to be achieved success. Similar to the days, years ago when self help books were all the rage – and had limited success. (Interestingly I had a friend who had over 200 self help books and was unemployed for over 2 years – no action).
    This year I have started focusing on one thing and am using and doing it, but analysing as I go to continually tweak it – and while it has not been a runaway success – it has started bumping up my email list.
    Goal for this year – no more courses – just put in to practice what I learnt last year from gurus like Nick, Mark Dawson and Joanna Penn ( I call them the Holy Three).

    Thanks for penning this encouraging article.

    Shane (from across the ditch) (An Aussie will know what that means.)

  22. Arvo says:

    That snotty bit in the middle of the graph is where I’m at and it’s hard work. I’ve had great feedback for my books have gotten just under 1k peeps on my ML but I’ve not worked out how that’s not translating to more sales yet. In process of updating what everything looks like and next I’m going to do back matter. This week after changing all the covers, I got a pleasing spike in my permafree book funnel, so somethings working! Needle = moving 🙂

  23. Adrian Churchward says:

    Ryan Naylor, you say
    “Why is it that my action fades? If my actions are not in line with my desire, or more precisely, my desire is not in line with the actions I take, then, it won’t matter. It’s about taking the right action for where I am in my process of wanting to write a book. And that action just might be understanding what drives my desire to write a book. Then, from there, I may be ready to mind-map or create an outline.”

    If this issue is really so important to you, I would suggest that you refer to Thomas Hobbes’s “Leviathan”: Chapter V (Of reason, and Science) and Chapter VI (Of the Interiour [sic] Beginnings of Voluntary Motions, Commonly Called the PASSIONS, and the Speeches by Which They Are Expressed). (Hackett 1994) at pp 22 to 35.

    But, with respect, I do not see why you feel the need to analyse the issue so deeply before writing a book. There is such a thing as “overthinking”.

  24. Malinda Martin says:

    Great article. My question is where do you find the group promotions for your book genre?

  25. Chris Brooks says:

    Great article Tracey. In fact, I’ll say brilliant.
    All apart from your individual tips, I love your general message of simply DO IT.
    Having said that, I’ve squirreled a couple of your tips away and in fact, broke off halfway through reading to start a draft e-mail headlined ‘Please Follow Me on Bookbub’
    Thanks very much. I’ll probably read that post again in a few day
    All the Best,

  26. Rebecca J Wetzler says:

    I love the illustration of the path to success. I can relate to the squiggly line!

  27. M T McGuire says:

    That’s a cracker of an article and great advice. The three big constraints for me are time, emotional stamina and budget so I loved the mention that some successful authors do this in baby steps because I go at about the speed of continental drift, possibly a teeny bit slower.

    Also really appreciated the bit about using your time wisely but also scheduling in bite sized chunks of everything. I do 10 minute sprints and I to write 500 words a day. If I can’t do that, I chalk it up as a win if I’ve spent 10 minutes on writing. This sounds ridiculously small but if I keep the targets tiny I end up doing more and at the same time, I don’t stress about it so it happens easily. I’ve only just picked up my author career again after two years struggling to work out how I can stop panicking about my lack of time and use my minutes to be proactive in the face of zero budget, some stiff time constraints and some tough challenges on the family life front. I, too, have been revisiting my courses (two which have been updated since I first completed them) and it was heartening to read about Tracey’s techniques to squeeze everything in. A couple are news to me and I’m going to try them, while others are things I’ve started doing too and so I feel vindicated!

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