My 90 Day Milestone - A Reflection
Today is a little bit of a milestone for me as a new author. You see, today marks 90 days since I launched my new business Isla Britannica Books and decided to go full time as an author. A good opportunity to stop and reflect on what I've achieved so far.
Frustration and Sabotage
I've been feeling quite frustrated lately. Frustrated that everything is taking me so long and that I seem to spend so much of my time faffing around and not being as productive as I think I should or could be. But it turns out that having a 90 day reflection milestone, actually helps, and I've instead realised just how much I HAVE achieved in a relatively short space of time. 90 days ago was the 12th November 2018, just a couple of days shy of my 43rd birthday (I wrote a little blog post here as well as a post at Christmas/New Year).
Give It a Year
So what exactly have I achieved in my first 90 days as a new author? There was a show on the TV recently called 'Give it a Year' with a very successful British business woman called Karen Brady, and in that series, she would meet people starting a new business, and then meet them again a year later to see how they got on. I came across it by chance, but was immediately hooked because it was exactly the kind of thing that I needed to see (I do hope that they make a new series).
In watching it, I came to recognise that it's easy to see logic in things as an outsider, but never so clear when you are in the thick of things and 'can't see the wood for the trees'. Sometimes it seemed obvious what the business owner should do to be successful, but you could see that the owner was struggling because of fear or self doubt, or because they just didn't want to accept that their idea wasn't the right one. I think that really sums up my time as a new author too. In my head, I know exactly what I SHOULD be doing to succeed, but in my heart I know that I'm not achieving my full potential with everything because a part of me feels like I don't deserve to be successful and because I self sabotage to avoid my fear of success. And then I get frustrated and annoyed because I can recognise exactly what I'm doing, but haven't yet found a way to overcome this huge psychological hurdle. I always thought that I was alone in this struggle, but watching the show, it became clear that a lot of business owners go through this to some extent, and just the mere fact of recognising that this happens to other people has kind of made it less of an issue for me. And that is where I realised I need to become my own Karen Brady and to take a fresh look at my business. To treat myself as well as I treat my clients, and to start being accountable to myself on a regular basis. What would Karen advise me to do if I were on the show? What things might I do differently if I knew I had to stand up and be counted one year from now? If I were truly being objective, or if I was looking at this as someone else's business, what advice would I give them? Would I treat my clients as badly as I treat myself? Why is it that I do that?
Building my Author Website
If Karen were to ask me that question right now. What would I have to show for my time so far? Well, in month one (November) I created two websites, one for my author profile, and one for my publishing company. I also re-did the website for my charity Oceans Project as a percentage of the royalties from my books go towards the work that my charity does with children. That was important to me, especially as I needed a hub where I would drive traffic, and I wanted people to be able to find me, should they come across my author name and want to know more.
In changing my Oceans Project website, I switched it back from Wix to Weebly, saving money and making things easier logistically with all three of my websites now hosted with Weebly on the basic packages. I purchased my domain names, set up G-Suite hosting for my emails and one of my goals for the year ahead is to save up enough money to pay Weebly for these and the web hosting on an annual rather than a monthly basis, as this will save me a little bit of money and make my accounting easier as it wouldn't need to be done monthly.
With my website built, I started this blog, and began using Amazon affiliate links and in January I finally figured out how to use Amazon's universal links, thus saving me time and earning me a little bit of money in the process. The Amazon affiliate programme pays out at the end of each month, for each country's store (once you reach a minimum) and pays 60 days later, meaning that at the end of January 2019 I received my very first Amazon affiliate commision for folks clicking through my links to buy my books or the free books I post. That first payment was $85 (about £62) and I expect this to increase each month as I start to have more content and books for sale. I re-invested that money into my business, and will do the same again next month, along with royalties from my Audiobooks. In November, I took part in NaNoWriMo which got me a free setup code for Ingram which will save me around $40 when I get my print book ready for distribution to Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, etc.
Initially I posted blogs on a different topic each month and strived to post two blogs per day - one of the month's theme, and one for the free cozy mystery books, but I was struggling to keep this up and even though I was earning a little bit of affiliate income from it each day, I've this week decided to go back to posting just once a week on a Friday, to coincide with my newsletter. Otherwise my book production will suffer and that's where my income is in the longer term.
Pinterest and Instagram
Each time I posted a blog, I would pin those images to Pinterest boards, and share those same images on Instagram. Initially, I shared them on my personal Instagram page, but soon realised that I needed to set up an Instagram page for the Cozy Mystery Book Explorer Facebook page/blog posts. I schedule these using Schedugram, which is a big chunk of budget, but is timewise a lot easier logistically. I also took part in giving them some feedback and received an Amazon gift voucher in return, which I used to buy some business books to help me with my skillset. I've found a lot of great business books on Amazon for free, and for my birthday in November, I took advantage of the Black Friday sales and bought myself a Kindle. This has been brilliant for when I'm away, travelling, and on the film set and enables me to watch programmes, listen to audiobooks, and read all sorts of books on the go. I'm now at 199 followers on the Instagram page, and have an average of 40k views per month on Pinterest and 212 followers. I include my Amazon affiliate links on my Pinterest images and I expect these to bring in some extra funds in the longer term, as well as helping me to get pins of my own books out there circulating amongst others in my genre.
Prolifick Works and Starting a Newsletter
In November I set up a list of monthly themes (listed here) and set up giveaway groups on Prolifick Works (was Instafreebie then, but they rebranded). This gave me free books that I could share with my readers, and helped me to connect with other authors, plus build up my newsletter list as readers would often give their email address in exchange for a free book. From this, I built up a mailing list from zero to 2000 within a month, and pretty active readers in my genre (cozy mystery). My reason for setting up my own giveaways was because there weren't very many giveaways for my genre, and those that there were had all hit their quota of authors so were always full. It cost me $20 a month to use Prolifick Works to gain the subscribers (the free version doesn't allow you to) and it seemed to be going pretty well, but I've been less impressed in the past few weeks. It looks like a lot of authors in my genre have since switched to BookFunnel instead for similar reasons to my findings, but I think my own situation has changed to the point where I'm less reliant on PW for building my list of subscribers too.
From my newsletter list, I started sending out a 'Free Book Friday' newsletter which led people to my blog posts and my affiliate links to the free books within my genre. This was definitely something that worked for me even without having any books out yet. It allowed me to have something to share with my newsletter list, and it meant that when I finally put my books out, they would then show up on the 'also boughts' alongside other authors in my genre. I hadn't thought this through or planned it, but realised it was an added bonus later on. That definitely helped me with the Amazon algorithms, and I set up a Cozy Mystery Book Explorer Group on Facebook for subscribers who wanted to be more active. That had a knock on effect with my author page on Facebook as Facebook directed them to my author page and helped me to get myself out there without actively doing anything special to attract followers.
Going forward, I've decided to drop Prolifick Works, based purely on a bad experience with their customer services. Initially I was getting a lot of cozy mystery authors signing up to have their books in my giveaways, but more recently I've started to be bombarded with submissions from one or two bare chested man romance authors. This was starting to take up several hours each day and hundreds of email notifications each time a new book was submitted to my giveaway. Had these been books that actually fit into the genre of my giveaway it would have been great, but it was the same one or two billionaire romance authors that kept submitting and there was nothing I could do about it. I reached out to Prolifick Works a number of times, but they basically just said it was tough luck, and I felt that they were patronising. I didn't see the point in continuing to pay for something that was just adding extra stress and eating up my time, so as part of my 90 day review, I've now dropped PW from my toolbox, but will continue with the scheduled giveaways even though I don't have books in them and there's no direct benefit to me in terms on building up subscribers. Knowing what I know now, I'd use BookFunnel instead especially as there seem to be a lot more authors there with fresh new books, so the giveaways would be less saturated.
I'd also hit the level on my newsletter subscriber list with Mailchimp where I'd have to start paying to send out my newsletter, so I decided to instead, cull my list. If there were folks on there who hadn't been opening my Free Book friday mailing list each week, then I deleted them from the list. If budget wasn't an issue, then I might have considered carrying on as I was, but I didn't want my click and open rates to suffer from the few folks who weren't interested. I probably should have contacted those subscribers first to see whether or not they wanted to remain on my list, but I knew my time and energy would be limited and better spent elsewhere, so I instead did the cull without contacting folks. I figured that if they were in fact readers, and just weren't showing up on the data somehow, that they would likely get in touch to ask why they weren't receiving the mail out any more. It felt good to remove the 'deadwood' and will improve the chances of my newsletter not being flagged as spam in the long run.
Previously, I had been terrified of sending out newsletters, for fear of rejection and unsubscribes, but I'm pleased to say that I seem to have overcome that sense of terror now. Instead, I spend a lot of my Saturday interacting with email replies to my newsletter, and have received some lovely messages, as well as a few Christmas cards from subscribers. I feel as if I know my readers/subscribers quite well now, on first name terms, and those readers have shared quite personal things with me, that has built up my confidence as an author. I love the fact that there are folks all over the world now reading my books or newsletters and messaging me to ask when my next book will come out, even if they've only received an unedited beta copy or whatever. Life as an author and businesswoman now seems a lot less lonely and I know that I'm sending the newsletter out to real people not just random names on a list. It's a great feeling to be a part of a community of people who enjoy the same kind of books.
Starting a Cozy Mystery Facebook Group
Off the back of the newsletter, the Cozy Mystery Book Explorer Facebook group was formed. It wasn't something I had planned, but it felt like it was what the newsletter readers wanted. The newsletter was not enough, and having a group would allow me to have a space where I could talk to everyone, and share my own love of cozy mystery books. That group grew faster than I expected, and today has 390 members. I post my blog posts there, especially when I come across free books or discounted books that I think the group might enjoy, and just before Christmas, we started having different cozy mystery authors in residence. That actually worked out really well as sometimes I was away for a week with filming, and wasn't as active in the group, plus I wanted to build up a community of people who loved the genre, rather than it being a group all about me or my books. It's also turned out to be a lovely way for me to get to know my peers, the inspiration behind their books and writing, and as a result I'm now able to do newsletter swaps for my new releases. This seems to have been a win: win situation for everyone. It's also really helped me to learn about communication and to see how other authors interact with people in the group and to learn from them, especially as an introvert.
In January I asked the group what new things or changes they would like to see, and the answer was book reviews/recommendations and giveaways, so I decided to try something new in the form of a book box giveaway based on that month's theme. Members of the group simply had to leave a review of a cozy mystery they had read, and I would announce a winner at random on the last Friday of the month. It was a big chunk of my budget, but I think that in time, it will be a lovely way for me to help out fellow authors by purchasing print copies of their books, and will be something fun for the winner. I ordered books from Amazon using Amazon Smile (which supported my charity Oceans Project in the process), and purchased a box and other little bits of swag and posted it out. This may or may not be something that I continue going forward, but for now it feels like a nice, fun thing to do and I hope that it brightens someone's day. If I was based in the US I could make use of Amazon's own Giveaway feature, but sadly am not eligible, so this is the next best thing.
Finding a Community
In the last 90 days I've started to build a community with other authors, which is great for word sprints and seeking advice and celebrating success together. Most of this has come about through Twitter and using hashtags such as #writingcommunity and #ReadingCozy and I love the philosophy that 'a rising tide lifts all boats'. I'm keen to pay this forward to others as I develop and grow.
One of the biggest, but easiest decisions I had to make back in November, was whether or not to register as a business. In my heart it was an easy decision, even if it would work out more expensive in the first few years as far as my head was concerned. I registered Isla Britannica Books as a Ltd company with HMRC even though I knew I'd be faced with a tax bill of thousands, regardless of whether I actually made any money or not. The down side was that I'd now have to submit two lots of tax and pay extra for my accountant, but given that I'm currently homeless (living in a guesthouse with my three cats and 1 dog) and that I was working so hard to save up to buy a house, there was no way that I wanted to ever lose that house should something bad happen. Given that Amazon could shut down an author's account at any moment, with no reason, I didn't want my whole life to be affected. If I registered as a Ltd company, in a worst case scenario I would lose my business but my personal assets and home would be protected. It was a no brainer as far as I was concerned, and since I plan to become a millionaire and am in the publishing game for the long term, not just an overnight thing. I wasn't going to let the next 'cockygate' scandal, or recession, or whatever else happened ruin a life's worth of work. Stability is what I'm after and that means preparing for the worst and making sure that I'm protected as much as possible. So many businesses that have been around for generations have closed down recently, no one is ever safe.
Setting up as an Ltd. was pretty straight forward. I paid my £19 and filled out the online form, and then waited for my business registration number. Opening a business bank account was another matter though! As a customer of Lloyds, I figured that my logical step would be to open a business account with them, but having turned up for the first appointment, I was then told that I'd have to wait until the business number arrived, and that it couldn't be done in branch, but I could only do it over the phone. That was mildly irritating as it was a loss of my time, but what happened next made me furious. I had my phone meeting with one of the pool of nameless managers, and was told to fill out lots of different forms giving my forecasts and cash flows and things and was told to call back in a few days time to discuss the next steps. It took 6 weeks until the account was finally opened, meaning that I couldn't use the account from the off, as I had wanted to do. I spent two whole days filling out forms, emailing them to the manager as requested, only to then discover from another of the random pool of managers that I hadn't needed to fill those forms in. The manager I spoke to knew nothing about my business, and his attitude wasn't the best, to the point where I seriously doubted the ability of the managers to look after my business needs. What exactly would I be paying extra for, just to have an account that didn't do anything I wanted, and that I'd have to wait until January before the pin number and card finally arrived? Three months into my new business! I was livid, and I knew right in that moment that this wasn't the bank account for me. There was something about high street banks that was so backward, so prehistoric, that just didn't work for the modern day business owner. All of my income would be in dollars, and all of my outgoings would be in dollars. I didn't do invoices to clients, I sold books and I got paid for selling books, it was very straightforward. It took another 6 weeks to finally get that account closed, at which point the bank card finally arrived!
In the meantime, I came across two new bank accounts, both very modern, and crowdfunded. They looked much more forward thinking, and within no more than a couple of minutes, I had set up a business account with an app on my phone called CountingUp and a personal bank on my phone app called Monzo. This was more like it! What's more, I could use the accounts the very same day, and I received the bank cards within the week, even though it was Christmas season. Both are still in their infancy, but I'm already in love with them both, and getting a lot more from them than I ever have with a high street bank. CountingUp isn't quite where I need it to be yet as I can't do the international income without the Swift codes and BIC but will be launched very soon, But that's fine with me for now. Monzo is brilliant because it allows you to have pots to earmark money into, and they will be adding business accounts very soon. So it won't be long before I drop the high street banks completely and do everything on my phone, including scanning receipts.
In November I spoke with my accountant Helen about the different accounting packages, and pros and cons of becoming a Ltd company, and I spent some time doing free trials of accounting packages like Sage. Unfortunately, I didn't like any of the packages very much as none of them really fit my needs, and it seemed like a waste of money for something that wouldn't really help me. As I say, I don't invoice clients. I write books, I sell books, and I get paid. I have very few expenses - ISBNs, book covers, editing - so my accounting should really be quite straightforward. That's why I've decided that longer term, I'd rather hand all my receipts over to a bookkeeper and have that person do my accounts for me instead of me wasting writing time doing something I'm not especially expert in. For the moment, I'm not paying myself a salary as I'm not earning enough, but in a few months time, I expect this to change and for my income to be more consistent. I always knew that my outgoings would be more than my income at least for the first few months. I'd rather have my procedures in place from the get go, than have to make changes part way through, so it's better to get things right now when things are fairly simple, than later on when I hope to be earning a seven figure salary. For now, I write all my income and expenses in my daily book (I use a Leuchturm ruled notebook), along with my word count, ranks, stats, and sales, so that I have a record of it for the future and can see my growth over time.
Fiverr, Book Cover Design, Editing
As soon as I started my publishing business in November, I pulled all of my soft launched books from Amazon, and worked hard on building up my profile on Fiverr - offering Vellum book formatting, beta reading, and book promotion for $5 a go to other authors. I needed to save as much as I could, so that I could buy professional covers and editing services for my books, Fiverr seemed like a decent way of bringing in the extra income and working on my expertise at the same time, whilst helping out my fellow authors. My sales increased over time, and in January I decided to drop the beta reading for new clients, and to increase my Vellum formatting to $10. It was a scary move, but I knew it was the right thing to do, and I offered my best clients the opportunity to buy a pack of ten gigs from me for $50 if they ordered before the 31st December. On the whole my customers have been brilliant and genuinely professional authors like myself who are just starting out and struggling with cashflow, but by offering my services too cheaply I think I also attracted a lot of time wasters who were buying my services and re-selling them to their clients for a hefty sum. I now earn a bit more than I was doing, but for half the time I wasted on people who didn't value my services.
Fiverr has generally worked out really well for me, and I love working with my regular customers, especially seeing their beautifully formatted books doing well in the Amazon bestseller charts. With the funds I raised from my $5 gigs (about £1.50 after Paypal, exchange rate, and my high street bank charging me for having income in dollars) I was able to purchase my first two book covers from the Queen of cozy mystery covers Mariah Sinclair. This was another massive step for me and I really struggled with trust issues, even though I knew Mariah was well known in the genre. As an introvert I find it difficult communicating with other people, and especially so with people who are from other cultures/countries where they tend to be more direct than what I'm used to as a Brit. It was a huge investment and it had taken me a really long time to save up enough money, now I had to trust that a complete stranger would do a great job for my books. I'd also waited a really long time for one of her slots to come up (she gets booked up months in advance so it was a big deal to get one of her slots), and my fear was that I'd invest all this money in a cover, only for her to then not be able to do my other covers, which would mean I'd have to do my first cover from scratch again with another person and that would delay my books being launched. It was a tough one psychologically even though I wasn't really aware of it or able to put it into words at the time. But it was a HUGE deal, I had a lot riding on it. Likewise for finding and working with an editor for the first time, and trusting that they would do a decent job for a large (to me) sum of money. It was going to take several weeks to get an editing slot and the book would take at least a month to be edited. What if that person then turned around and said that they hadn't managed to get the job done? That would be months wasted. I'm not good at handing over control to others and being on another person's timeframe, but I'd have to suck it up if I wanted to step up my publishing quality. Once I've saved up sufficient funds, then I'll be able to have six editors and cover designs on standby on a retainer to keep up with my writing pace - but until then...I need to be patient!
And so came the end of January, and I had my first two book covers and my edited books. Now I could upload them to Amazon on a pre-order, and begin marketing them. Now it was back to me, things were in my control again and it was a huge relief to not be waiting on others to deliver.
As I write this today, I currently have 98 pre-orders for Dead on Doughnuts and 50 pre-orders for Baa'd to the Bone which went up on Amazon a week after Dead on Doughnuts. I'm not going to get my money (covers, editing) back on those orders for some time, but I'm trusting that I'll get more sales once the books are out, as well as getting the page reads from Kindle Unlimited customers, plus people going on to read my next books. I won't receive that money until the end of May at the earliest, because Amazon pays out 60 days later. Right now, both books are on the Amazon 'hot new release' best seller charts and my author rank is #1493 for all genres and #1089 for the mystery genre. When I look at my rankings since November, even though I've not actually released my books yet, I'm on an upward path, and my ultimate goal is to get within the top 100 best selling authors on Amazon and certainly within the top 10 for the mystery genre.
Financially, I've already cleared two debts, and each day I've been paying in a few pennies into my Monzo pots using the 1p challenge idea. Basically, I wrote down a list of all the payments that go out or will go out from my author/publishing business and personal account each year, plus a wish list of things I'd like to afford, and I created a pot for each of those. On the 1st January I put 1p in each pot, and now today is day 41, so I put 41p in each pot. So by the end of the year each pot should have around £600 in it. This means that as soon as I hit the amount I need to pay for something on an annual basis, I'm going to. For example, I need £136 to pay for three years worth of domain names and Weebly website hosting, so as soon as I have £136 in my pot, I'll switch from my monthly payments, to paying three years upfront, thus saving me money in the long run. Plus I'll have enough money in that pot to pay for other things if I continue with the 1p challenge. One of my personal wish list items is private health insurance, so I plan to save up until I can pay for a year of health insurance upfront. I also have a christmas pot for treating myself to things at Christmas, and a Starbucks pot so I can treat myself to coffee as I write my books. This will mean that I'll have covered all of my expenses for 2020, as well as being able to buy all the luxury things and wish list things, and since my income is minimal now, but should go up up as the year progresses, it shouldn't be too much of an issue to keep pace with the increase of 1p more each day.
Fiverr generally pays out on a daily basis, in arrears, whilst I receive my Amazon income and affiliate income at the end of the month 60 days in arrears. So, each day that I get paid, I've been paying the 1p challenge amount into each pot first, and then anything that's left over goes three ways - towards savings for book covers and editing, into emergency funds,pensions, and ISA's, and the final third into paying off bills and expenses. I put a little bit aside each day towards my tax and accounting too. It might not seem like saving a penny a day would make a difference, but psychologically it feels good to see things being paid off, and it doesn't take long before those pennies become pounds. Even if I only get £1 paid into my account, it still gets split between each pot, regardless of whether it seems worth bothering. I've also been using Amazon Mechanical Turk to earn dollar credits on Amazon.com that I can use to pay for Starbucks as a little treat whilst I'm writing. This has worked out really well whilst away on location filming, speaking at schools, or whatever, especially when my train has been delayed as I've been able to use the credits to buy food or drinks at the nearest Starbucks. I really lucked out in November, December, and part of January too, because the Starbucks app on my phone had some sort of glitch and this meant that I kept getting free drinks. Going forward, I'll probably do AMT less, and instead buy my coffee as my income has gone up a little now, to the point where I'm less time rich and am better to use that time on writing my books. It was definitely a great way to fund coffee whilst writing in the coffee shop though.
Building a Credit Score
Financially, I have two big goals. My first is to get my credit rating on Noddle to 5/5 (I'm currently down on points because of not showing up as on the electoral register, even though I am registered, and I also discovered that a Selfridges store card I had back in 2000 still shows up on my report which could be hurting my rating even though I always had a zero balance on the card, so that should hopefully be removed soon). I like Noddle because it is free to use and updates each week so it's nice to see where I am rating wise. Having a really good credit rating is important to me, because it will be a good measure of my financial health, and even though I plan to buy a house for cash rather than getting a mortgage, it won't hurt to have the best credit rating possible, just in case I ever need a mortgage or whatever. My second goal is to be eligible for an American Express Platinum card (maybe a black card one day if I'm super lucky). This goal came about after following a fellow author's journey, from working long hours as a nurse this time last year, still struggling to pay off student loans and writing really hard. She's now a full time author, having paid off her debts, quit nursing, and doing well for herself. I'm aiming to follow her path, and to be where she is now, by the time we reach January next year. The Platinum card is notoriously hard to get, and has no credit limit, so to be eligible for one, you need to be doing well financially, and that seems like a good way for me to measure my wealth and success as an author. That means getting more sales of my books, and writing more books. Mentally I find tangible things like the Platinum card easier to aim for, rather than things I can't really visualise, so the goal is more about making things happen than it is about the card itself.
Exercise and Health
Fitness wise, I know I struggle with my mood and energy levels if I don't get enough exercise and if I don't eat healthy food, so I'm using a free app on my phone to make sure that I walk at least 10,000 steps per day. This will help me with my writing and brain downtime, plus is great for listening to podcasts on things like author mindset. Luckily, now that Spring is approaching, the sunrise is getting earlier, and the sunset getting later. This should make it easier for me to get an early morning walk in, and to get back into a good routine. I'm definitely still struggling with my routine at the guesthouse, and part of this is from getting back ache, plantar fasciitis, and headaches from poor posture whilst working on my computer, so the walking and weight loss should help a bit with this, especially as I'm really missing my outdoor swimming.
Paypal Working Capital and Cashflow
My biggest frustration is by far finances, or lack of finances. I think this is why I got so annoyed at my bank when I started my business, even though I wasn't asking them for funding. Right now, I have to save up a lot of money for my book covers and editing before I can publish my books, and then I have to wait a minimum of 60 days before I receive any money back on those books. I can write a lot, and have stories ready to go, and my ultimate aim is to be publishing up to 5 books on the first of each month, but right now, everything happens slowly, because I need to get funds and then wait on booking an editing or cover slot. Yet, I'm so close to making it all happen. With another $500 of income I'll be eligible for Paypal Working Capital, which would allow me to draw down money upfront from my Paypal account - that money would cover the cost of my covers and editing. Likewise if I could get a loan or credit card or business loan or whatever, I'd be able to get my books out quicker. So for now, I'm having to learn patience, and discipline. I've also applied for the SPF Foundation Scholarship which would include $2000 worth of Reedsy services (for covers, editing). A life changing opportunity!! To be so close to my dream, and yet still so far. The sooner I can bring in funds, the sooner I can buy a home and get back to my swimming and community, but I also know that as long as I keep plodding on, I'll get there soon enough. It's the same when I'm doing a swim in a lake or river or whatever, the worst part is always when you can see the finish line, and yet it never seems to get any closer, especially when the current kicks in and pulls you in the opposite direction. The Henley Swim was just like that. So close I could almost touch the finishing buoy, but it felt like I wasn't moving anywhere no matter how hard I swam. The first part of the swim was pretty easy by comparison.
Writer's Retreats and Conferences
By far the biggest and best achievement so far, is that I've paid in full for my trip to Edinburgh in July, where I'll get to hang out and to write and learn from some big name authors. We'll be staying in a castle together and have 5 editors on hand throughout. This will be a big deal for me, as an introvert, and getting to finally meet people in person, like my cover designer, and names I look up to who are earning 7 and 8 figure incomes. A chance to finally meet my tribe, and all being well, to hang out with them in Vegas in November too. Last year, it would have seemed impossible to save up enough to take part, and with my 90 day reflection I realise that a lot of people have unfriended me on Facebook, but weirdly, I'm actually fine with that. I think it shows my growth as a person, and for the first time, I feel like I'm suddenly surrounded by other people like me, creatives, people I've admired for a long time. Musicians, writers, painters, supporting artists. I've got a bunch of really awesome friends, and I'm so lucky and privileged to have those folks in my life. Those friends are the ones who know me now, as a homeless person, who has to use the food bank from time to time, to now becoming financially stable. Better to lose those folks now and to share the journey with people who get me. I've changed, I've grown, and I'm starting to believe in myself as an author and businesswoman. 90 days doesn't seem like a long time, but in many ways, a lot has happened in that time. Who knows where I'll be on my next 90 day milestone, or how my situation will have changed? As long as I'm moving forwards on that upward slope I'll be happy. Sometimes you need to see the bigger picture to see how far you have come, to see that you are on the up.
Goals for the Next 90 Days and Beyond
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