Book Review: Business for Authors by Joanna Penn

BFABack in March I finally finished Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur by Joanna Penn, and here it is May and I’m finally finishing my review of the book! I had owned this book for months, and I think I was subconsciously intimidated by it. Why else would I have read all kinds of other books but resisted picking up the book about business?

Turns out, I didn’t have as much cause for intimidation as I thought. I already knew some of the material that’s covered in this book. I say that as a pleasant realization–I know more than I think I do about publishing! But just because I already knew some of the material, I don’t want you to think this book isn’t worthwhile to intermediate level people.

Joanna Penn’s book is a great resource for any writer who wants to make his or her writing more than just a hobby. Whether you want to be traditionally published, self-published, or a hybrid author, you can learn a lot from this book. Penn covers a lot of ground in this almost-300-page book.

A rundown of the table of contents offers the following topics: From Author to Entrepreneur, Products and Services, Employees, Suppliers and Contractors, Customers, Sales and Distribution, Marketing, Financials, Strategy and Planning, and Next Steps. Penn offers thorough, solid advice and information for just about every aspect of business I can think of. She also provides a large number of online resources to check out, including blog posts, interviews, podcasts, downloadable worksheets, and more.

One of the things that I liked most about the book was that she wanted the reader to define success for himself or herself. In other words, Penn doesn’t assume that your goal is to quit your job, become a full-time writer, and make a million dollars. On the other hand, if that’s your goal, her book is more than ready to help you achieve it!

Business for Authors is full of practical, hands-on advice about practical matters like financials, personal assistants, and tax issues. Penn offers tips on branding, websites, accountability, and long-term planning. It’s amazing how much she packs into this book while still keeping it at a manageable size.

I loved Penn’s list of resources, programs, apps, and services that she uses. I’ve purchased the OfficeTime app on her recommendation, and I love having something that automatically tracks the time I spend writing at the computer. Since it has an app for my phone, I can also track time I spend writing away from the computer. She also has a list of books she recommends, and I’m planning to slowly work my way through them.

Disclaimer: I haven’t worked through the worksheets for Next Steps yet, so I can’t tell you how long it’ll take to go through them. But you have a lot of questions to think about when you reach the end of the book, and fortunately Penn is good enough to guide you through those questions.



  1. Your review just sold a book – even though I have others on this topic in my library. I can relate to your “subconscious intimidation” that stayed your reading hand for a bit. My hand gets shaky at the publishing part. Here’s hoping this book moves me forward on that!
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

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