Author 2.0 Blueprint: a great resource for independent writers

The Author 2.0 Blueprint - How to write, publish, sell and promote your book - by Joanna Penn

By Michelle Barker

“You can’t edit a blank page.”

This is one of the many gems in Joanna Penn’s Author 2.0 Blueprint, available as a free download on her website, The Creative Penn.

Author 2.0 Blueprint covers the key aspects of being a writer: writing and editing, publishing options, marketing, and making a living as a writer. Today’s writer has choices, and Penn’s mandate is to explore all the available options. To that end, she does not limit herself to the route of traditional publishing but also explores the many possibilities that the self-publishing world offers.

Regardless of how you decide to publish, Penn emphasizes that the writing is the most important part of the process. 

Her writing book recommendations hit all the greats in the field: Stephen King, Anne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg, Steven Pressfield.

I was impressed by her ability to give hard-hitting advice while still maintaining a positive tone. Here are some of the highlights:

The First Draft: “Don’t worry about it, just write.”

Hemingway said it best: “The first draft of anything is shit.” I derive a lot of comfort from the fact that one of the greatest writers of all time did not produce good first drafts. It’s something new writers need to hear and experienced ones need to be reminded of. No one expects us to get it right the first time, so why do we expect that of ourselves? We need to take the pressure off and just get the first draft down.

All Drafts that Follow: “Writing is rewriting.”

I believe this is the secret to all great writing. The transformation of a shitty first draft into an award-winning manuscript is where all the magic is. It’s where craft comes into the equation, and hard work, and heartache. Penn emphasizes the importance of hiring an editor to help at this stage, and she takes the time to explain the different types of edits that are available. She also says…

“The first time you receive a line edit, it will hurt.”

It doesn’t feel so great the second or third time either, though you do get used to it. I was glad Penn said this. It needs to be said. No one likes it when they hand over what they think is a perfect manuscript, only to get it back covered in red ink. But this is the process. We all have to go through it, no matter who we are. Resistance to the editing stage is natural, but we have to find a way to overcome it if we want to progress as writers.

How much do you want this?

It’s a good question. What are you willing to give up in order to become a writer?

• Would you watch less television?
• Turn off social media?
• Accept a lower income for a while so you can spend extra time writing?
• Get up a little earlier every morning to fit it in?

What is your definition of success?

Penn offers a list of excellent questions that help a writer figure out what they want and expect, not only from the book they’ve just written, but also from their career. Taking the time to answer these questions will help a writer decide which might be the best route to take.

One of the most useful pieces of advice in the book involves how to set a production schedule in order to create the essential habit of writing daily. Word quotas, plus a physical reminder of one’s progress, are great ways to make this happen. 

Author 2.0 Blueprint provides a solid foundation in the business of writing. Penn also provides links throughout to video tutorials. Altogether, it’s a valuable resource for writers of all levels, at every stage of the process.


Michelle Barker, senior editor and award-winning novelist

Michelle Barker is an award-winning author and poet. Her most recent publication, co-authored with David Brown, is Immersion and Emotion: The Two Pillars of Storytelling. Her fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in literary reviews worldwide. She has published three YA novels (one fantasy and two historical fiction), a historical picture book, and a chapbook of poetry. Michelle holds a BA in English literature (UBC) and an MFA in creative writing (UBC). Many of the writers she’s worked with have gone on to win publishing contracts and honours for their work. Michelle lives and writes in Vancouver, Canada.

Immersion & Emotion: The Two Pillars of Storytelling

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