Stop Trying To Do Everything With Patricia McLinn

Stop Trying To Do Everything With Patricia McLinn

How do you keep up with everything you need to do as your author business grows? How do you decide what to focus on as the industry changes — and you change, too? Patricia McLinn discusses her challenges with a big backlist of books and a mature indie author business.

In the intro, Self-publishing’s ongoing evolution [Publishers Weekly]; Audiobooks on Spotify and how my listening behavior is changing [FindawayVoices]; Author ecosystems, and an overview on the Kickstart your book sales podcast.

Plus, How to double down on being human: 5 ways to stand out in an age of AI; Writing the Shadow: Turn Your Inner Darkness Into Words; Let your dark horse run; Halloween Horror Bundle including Catacomb; The Wrong Planet autism book by Holger Nils Pohl; Join the community at Patreon.com/thecreativepenn

Today’s show is sponsored by ProWritingAid, writing and editing software that goes way beyond just grammar and typo checking. With its detailed reports on how to improve your writing and integration with Scrivener, ProWritingAid will help you improve your book before you send it to an editor, agent or publisher. Check it out for free or get 25% off the premium edition at www.ProWritingAid.com/joanna

Patricia McLinn is the award-winning and multi-USA Today bestselling author of over 60 books across mystery, contemporary and historical romance, women’s fiction, and nonfiction.

You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below. 

Show Notes

  • Dealing with difficulties of changing business technology
  • How to re-sane in a long-term author career
  • Streamlining, outsourcing, and letting go
  • The change in social media platforms over the past decade
  • AI and its effect on discoverability
  • What retirement may look like for an author

You can find Patricia at PatriciaMcLinn.com

Transcript of Interview with Patricia McLinn

Joanna: Patricia McLinn is the award-winning and multi-USA Today bestselling author of over 60 books across mystery, contemporary and historical romance, women’s fiction, and nonfiction. Today we’re talking about the challenges of a long-term career and how to re-sane yourself. So welcome back to the show, Pat.

Patricia: It’s wonderful to be here with you, Jo. Thank you.

Joanna: Oh, I’m excited to talk about this.

You were last on the show in May 2021, talking about discovery writing and sustaining a long-term writing career. So we’re going to jump straight into the topic today, and I’ll link to that interview in the show notes. Basically, you emailed me, and I am quoting from your email, you said you’ve had,

“Cascading failures and issues in business technology and infrastructure.”

“It has not been fun. It has cost a lot.” and we want to talk about the difficulties today. So first up, tell us about those difficulties.

Patricia: Well, some of them are things that everybody has experienced. Like a little over a year ago, I had just finished redoing the Amazon categories for all of my books, and you know, there are 65 different titles, but there’s paperback and there’s large print. There are a lot of, as people say, products, more than the titles of the book, so about 200.

I had just finished that when the word came out that Amazon had changed the categories. Now, as we know now from a year looking back, that was the first of about three changes.

So I had all that work that was wasted, which was very frustrating. I have not done anything else with those categories since then because I’ve been occupied with other things. I was working on AI audio, so I was doing some AI audio on Google Play with romances that were not otherwise ever going to be in audio. So that was occupying a lot of my time last fall.

Then I also had ActiveCampaign as my newsletter server, and I had been with them for six years. I was frustrated and felt that I was never getting from it what it could do.

I could see all this functionality, but boy, it just did not mesh with me. So I decided, okay, I am not going to be defeated, I will not give up. So I went out and found somebody who was an expert and spoke author, and he spent the month of January straightening out my ActiveCampaign, getting it where it should be, doing the things that I had sort of piecemeal done—piecemeal is going to be a theme, I think, in this conversation—that I had done. It cost a couple thousand dollars, and a lot of time and effort, mine as well as his, but we had that set.

Then in mid-March, ActiveCampaign, which is already expensive, sent me an email and said, “We’re gonna raise your rate by more than 33%.” and I said, oh, no, you’re not. It was what had finally pushed me over the edge.

and, yes, there were some costs in what I had had him do and some time, but what I should have done, and this is also going to be a theme, is I should have listened to my gut. Six years of trying to get ActiveCampaign to work for me the way I felt it should, and we just were not a good fit. You know, give it up McLinn, just let it go! But I didn’t until the 33-plus percent increase.

Now, that of course happened, and they told me in March that you had to have it changed by the end of April or you got charged for the entire year. and I was of course on deadline, I had a book coming out at the end of April. I don’t write ahead like some people do. Deadline is my muse. So I had paid the same gentleman to transfer me to Mailer Lite, which has been much more congenial. I don’t know whether it’s the way my brain works or what it was, but I just never did.

So one of the things I would say to people is do not do what I did. Do not pay for six years for a tool that is not working the way it’s supposed to, even when you know it’s got lots of functionality. Just listen to yourself.

Look at the practicality of what works for you, not what should or could work.

Do not tell yourself, as I did, I can make anything work if I try hard enough.

Is it the best use of your time and your emotional energy, and eventually your money, as this turned out to be? So that was one big thing.

Joanna: Wait, we haven’t finished yet? There’s still more?!

Patricia: I also got an email in February, I think, that said, “Oh, geez, your lifetime deal with the SmartURL links isn’t going to work anymore. We will continue to serve your URLs if you pay us,” because it was bought out by another company.

and that gets my back up. I had a lifetime deal, the buying up company should honor that. Then they said, well, we will serve 40% of your URLs. Apparently not a lot of people were taking them up on their initial offer. I wrote back and said, “Well, how do we know which 40%?” and they wrote back and said, “Oh, we don’t know.” Like, what?

Joanna: Just so people know, these are the links, say, in the back of your books that go to various stores.

Patricia: Yes. So at that point, I had three assistants. My primary assistant was on a cruise. A secondary assistant who was the one who actually did links for me, that was one of her two primary jobs, said that she didn’t have the time.

and so I ended up—remember, still dealing with ActiveCampaign moving to Mailer Lite, still on deadline—I ended up changing/creating close to 3500 links because this was every link in the back of every book, every format, every possibility, and all the links on my website.

I then had somebody who put them up. My primary assistant, unwisely, came back from the cruise. and she and my formatter got them in the back of the books and had to reupload every book, every book, everywhere.

My lesson on that was that ‘lifetime deals’ can very well not be.

In fact, I had two others in this past year where the company was bought out, and these are all through AppSumo, the company was bought out and the buying out company did not honor the lifetime deal.

Joanna: Okay, can I just comment on that, and I have a few comments coming back before we continue.

First of all, on that whole lifetime deal companies, all of that, this is the same with publishers.

A lot of people sign publishing deals thinking that that agent or that publisher will be with them forever, and for many authors, you know, a publisher will get bought or the publisher will sell, and it will change hands and the terms will be different.

So it is completely normal for companies to sell, for contracts to change, and thus, although that happened, that doesn’t surprise me.

I have a tip for people here, and what I’ve always done because of this, I’ve seen this so many times, is to use a website link yourself. So I just use, say, JFPenn.com/Desecration.

I use my own website as the redirect link, rather than using a separate smart link.

[On WordPress you can use Tools -> Redirection, and you can also use Pretty Links plugin, and other link plugins.]

So it’s a different way of doing it, but it means it’s in your control.

Just coming back on some of these other things, I wanted to point out to people that you’ve been doing this a really long time. You’ve been publishing and self-publishing a long time.

What’s so interesting, I was also with ActiveCampaign for maybe a year, and I also felt the same way. It’s interesting because you’re a discovery writer, I’m a discovery writer, and I just felt the same as you. I felt like it was not meshing with me because it’s very almost mathematical. It’s a very logical system. There are some authors who do really well with ActiveCampaign, but I was not one of them.

I moved to ConvertKit, with a really simple email structure that I feel works as someone who is, I guess, just not as planned. and you’re the same, you know, we discovery write, we do things intuitively. I mean, you’ve chosen Mailer Lite, I’ve chosen ConvertKit, but the tip here, as we’re saying, is–

Listen to your gut. Listen to your intuition.

Patricia: Listen to your gut, for sure.

Joanna: So again, I think this is really interesting. Now, you are also quite technical, you have a great ability to do a lot of these things, and other people might also pay other people.

I’m going to add another thing, which is sometimes, and you didn’t even say this, you said, should I just let it go?

Sometimes you just need to let it go.

and this is something else that I think sometimes we need to do which is, do you really need to update every single format of every single piece of your backlist?

I came up against this earlier this year too, when I decided that I would only update certain formats, and I would just give up and assume, like many traditionally published books or books you find in the library, that the back matter if it’s wrong, well, they’ll just have to figure it out.

Patricia: Giving up?!

Joanna: Yes, how does that make you feel?

Because remember, you’re going to keep writing, you’re going to have even more books. So how are you feeling? Because nothing’s going to stop changing, everything’s going to keep changing.

So if people listening are like, okay, well, I want to have a career as long as Pat, and as long as Jo, these things will always change.

How can we re-sane ourselves, as you say?

and figure out what we do need to do and what we just don’t? Where’s the 80/20 rule?

Patricia: Oh, Lord, I wish I knew.

The re-sane yourself comes from when I started a group with some pals. I have found that really beneficial because one of the things it does is gives me a small group focus rather than the big group focus.

and what I mean is you go out on the Facebook groups or forums, and there are a thousand authors talking about, “This is the wonderful big thing you have to do. It’s hard, but it will pay off tremendously. Do this and do that.” and there’s a thousand different things. Each of those thousand authors is doing a different thing.

Having this small group, we’re filtering. That thousand comes down to five or six that we are talking about individually that really grabbed us. It’s more human scale, having this group and having the focus be on: should I do it, do I have to do it, Can I let it go?

Even though the answer often is, no, we got to do it. It just, it does weed out a lot of stuff. So I have found that to be really great. I will say we had one member who actually quit because she said one of the things she was doing was paring away her groups. So she’s our success story. She really truly did re-sane herself.

Joanna: I think that’s interesting.

I guess one of the tips is to —

Stop consuming all the things, stop trying to do everything, and pick a few things to do instead.

Like we’ve just talked about email systems, yes, you do need to have an email service, but I think one of the things you can pare down as such is, for example, I got rid of a whole load of over-engineered auto responders because I wasn’t able to update them.

In terms of the 80/20 rule, what few things make the most difference to my business, that was not one of them. and also, I didn’t enjoy it.

So I think that’s one thing, like decide what you want to do. But what are some other ways that you have re-saned yourself?

Patricia: Well, I also think looking at that upkeep is a big one, and what you said about whether you want to do it. I do tend to consume a lot of information, on Becca’s [CliftonStrengths] lists I’m a number one Learner and number two Input. I’m just gonna, that’s all there is to it.

Joanna: Me too.

Patricia: So I have to assess better how it makes me feel.

There’s just no point at this stage in my life to be doing stuff I don’t want to do.

I’m trying to get the mantra, “Don’t wanna, not gonna.” I’m going to work on that. So part of that, though, is not just a one off, it’s the things that take upkeep. Another one on my strengths is responsibility, so it drives me nuts when it’s not done right and not kept up. So that’s a huge thing for me.

Another thing is recognizing how much things change, and therefore, in a way, not investing as much time and energy in the now because it’s going to be transitory.

That has a lot to do with tools and platforms and all those things.

Yes, I did the Shopify store, and I tried really hard to not be totally anal about it. I had somebody else create the store, but I sort of designed it. I need to say to myself, it is not worth hours of my time to figure out that the corners of the boxes should be a certain radius. Just let it go.

So I’m working on it. It is definitely a process for me. That’s part of why I wanted to talk about this to other people too, that it is a process.

We’ve talked a little bit about this, the feeling that —

We are at such a changing point in the business. It reminds me of 2010, and it reminds me of being with the first authors putting our stuff up on retailers and going, what does this mean? How do we do this?

We didn’t speak the language, but you learn the language. That’s going to happen with people, I think, also selling direct. 

I see it as a continuum.

I see from having started in traditional where you were very buffered from the readers, and not in a good way, and other people made decisions about what the readers wanted.

As we’ve gone along, it’s become more and more direct to the readers. and direct is now where a lot of my focus is because I do have more control, because I do have a better connection with the readers that way. I think it will become even more so.

I would not be surprised if in 5, 6, 10 years, Shopify is squeezing the profit, trying to get more of it into their coffers, because that’s what corporations do. That’s what Amazon has done. That’s what the publishers did. That is the maturation of the market.

The big guys see that the individuals are making more money, and they think that’s a vacuum and they can scoop up those dollars and cents and pounds. So that’s going to happen, but then something else will open, and there will be another way. I think it will probably be another step closer to authors and readers, without middle people.

Joanna: Let me just address that because I’ve been, obviously, doing this a long time as well.

Shopify, to me, is the same as my website host.

So WPEngine hosts this website and all my sites, and Shopify hosts my stores. So yes, we pay them as a host, but they’re not a retailer.

They are a technological platform, so they’re not the same as Amazon. I agree that the costs will change, but I do think they are more like WP Engine or WordPress than a retailer because people sell all kinds of things on Shopify.

The more interesting thing I think there is what I think is going to happen, is all these stores are going to work through it. So I saw that through Seller Central, you can now go on to Shopify Buy With Prime. So you can actually have Amazon fulfillment through Shopify. and I was like, wow, that’s interesting.

I actually had a call with them about whether they’ll do it for books, and they were like, this is Seller Central, this is not KDP. But that’s interesting, and in that way, yes, you’re going to have this.

I’m sure Ingram will do this. I’m sure other people will do it for merchandise and books and all of that. So yes —

The ecosystem will inevitably change, but if you own and control your intellectual property, you can just move onto whatever else happens.

Let’s just come back to how much things change.

You know a lot of people, you’re very well connected. You’ve just been to the NINC Conference, which is excellent. So what are the other things that you think are shifting? What do you think is the vibe?

Selling direct is one of the shifts. What else is shifting?

Patricia: Well, certainly there’s a lot of interest in AI, and how that’s going to work, and how it works currently.

I think there’s a feeling that things kind of under our feet are shifting a little bit and nobody knows quite how they’re going. As I said, I see it as a continuum, and I’m hopeful.

I will say, I want to come back though and address that about Shopify, Jo. Because yes, it is not now currently a retailer, but I will tell you what I have a nightmare about.

The reason I keep both Shopify and my website, as opposed to putting my website into Shopify, as some people are doing, is I want two pieces out there. That’s because my nightmare is that Elon Musk buys one of them, WordPress or Shopify, and renames it Y. You know, and just sees it as a money-making opportunity to make it more of a retailer, or in some other fashion, to grab more of the money.

Joanna: It’s interesting though, because I see that as, again, there’ll always be another ecosystem. So let’s talk about Twitter or X, since you raised that.

Patricia: Obliquely.

Joanna: Well, I think maybe we met on Twitter. I can’t remember how we met. But I feel like a lot of the social media has changed.

A decade ago, you mentioned 2010, I first got on Twitter in 2009. I was on YouTube in 2008. I got on Facebook back then. and then of course, new things arrive. So the last thing, the upheaval was TikTok. Then obviously some people splintered off into TikTok. and then when Twitter changed to X, a lot of people left. 

What I find so fascinating is —

There is no single place anymore. No single social media hub.

So that seems like a big change too. It used to be, oh, well, you put your book on Amazon, you have a Twitter account and a Facebook account, and that’s all you need.

Patricia: and you’re done.

Joanna: You’re done. and now you have to really make a decision as to the specific things you want to focus on because you literally cannot do everything.

So what have you done with social media? Are you doing any? Or have you just said no, I’m not bothering?

Patricia: I’m closer to the latter. I am on Facebook. I’ve sort of let Twitter atrophy. This is part of re-saning myself.

I am not on TikTok. I have family and friends who are in security businesses who would shoot me if I were on TikTok, so I prefer to keep my hide whole. It’s very interesting, and one of the things I think I’m seeing is that there are evermore opportunities and places to go, but do you get the sense they’re siloing by genre?

Joanna: Not just genre, I mean age as well.

Patricia: Oh, yeah.

Joanna: You and I are the Facebook generation. But yes, I mean, I went back on X @thecreativepenn because I’m so into AI and I’m into the technology side of things. That is basically what it is now for me, is it’s almost like a news feed for technology. It’s completely different to how I used to use it.

I guess I’m using more Instagram @jfpennauthor for doing pictures. Like yourself, I mean, I’m not on TikTok, I didn’t really do much video.

Patricia: I don’t need to be on X because you are. I can get the futuristic and the AI from you. Thank you very much.

Joanna: Oh, no worries. It’s not social media anyway to me. It’s more like a Feedly, like a like a news feed. So you said they’re siloing by genre, so what are you seeing? Because you’re across a number of genres.

Patricia: Well, it was actually very interesting to me, there was a discussion on one of the Facebook groups, I think it was Wide for the Win, where some people were talking about Patreon and the changes it’s made versus Ream versus a number of other places whose names I did not recognize.

and then I realized that these were mostly science fiction or fantasy authors, and they were talking about how well it was doing for them. I thought, oh, it is feeling like that, it’s feeling like it’s specializing.

Rather than where everybody was on Facebook, whatever genre, now people are going to more specialized platforms.

I think in a way that sad to me because you get less accidental cross pollination, stumbling across things that maybe you don’t know to go searching for. I’m thinking that as a reader, but it is more efficient in some ways too.

Joanna: Yeah, and this is interesting because this is one of the things I’m excited about around AI is discoverability in a new way.

So I’m doing a lot of research at the moment on generative search, which I think is going to really change things, but also this idea of AI agents.

So again, at the moment, there are so many AI tools and different things, but I think what we’re going to have at some point is—I mean ChatGPT does this a bit at the moment—which is you can have plugins or you can have browsing and it can go find things.

But what I think‘s going to happen is —

There’ll be some kind of discoverability thing that we use more centrally that then goes and finds things on all of these other platforms because we literally cannot do it all.

I was doing a Chat, and it was able to find books on Shopify through ChatGPT. That was very exciting to me because, obviously, we can do paid ads, but the idea of generative search around much more nuanced things, I think is very interesting.

So what I’d say is you’re right, we’re in this period where we really don’t know what’s happening, but I have hope that we’re going to move into a much more interactive form of search.

Whereas at the moment, we’re like, here’s my question or here’s my genre, here’s the one book or the top of the list on the search page. But we’re going to be able to say, “Oh, no, I actually wanted that set in Paris,” or, “Actually, I would really like a Chinese protagonist,” or, “Actually, I would really….” and then what it will do is go back and look for other things. That’s how I think we might do stuff in the future. That’s kind of what I’m thinking.

Patricia: I think that’s fascinating, and I hope that comes, but it still eliminates stumbling upon.

So what if you said, “I want this to happen in Paris,” and yet there’s a book out there where it happens in Santa Clara, California that would have been really cool for you to read, but we are narrowing it by what we know to ask.

Joanna: But I think at the moment, we can’t even ask that.

At the moment, you’re stuck in categories and keywords.

Patricia: I’m jumping ahead. I want it better!

Joanna: So do I. But at the moment, well, what I’ve been mad about for years, is why do I have to choose categories and keywords when you have my book? You have the entire text of my book, vendors, why can’t you do a better job than me having to type in keywords and categories?

and so at the moment, we’re very restricted. What I think will come will be a much more granular understanding of our work.

I mean, I know this is controversial, but I think people are crazy if they remove their books from AI because this will be the basis of search.

I mean, Google search will be based on Google’s AI, Amazon is doing their own generative search, and there are going to be all these different search engines. Microsoft Bing is based on ChatGPT and Open AI.

If you’re removing all your IP, which you can do, now you can opt-out, then you’re not going to be found. It’s the same way when people got angry at Google like a decade ago. It’s like, okay, remove your stuff, no one’s ever going to find you. I don’t know. What do you think?

Patricia: Well, not surprisingly, my brain went off in a little different direction. When you were talking about having the whole book, I was thinking the other thing that they have are all the reviews of books, and that gets to the emotional reaction. Having the book, at least at this point, can’t tell AI how somebody is going to react to it.

Joanna: With the Claude 100K model that I’ve been using at the moment, it’s fascinating.

You can upload your whole book—I’ve shared this on my Patreon/TheCreativePenn —you can upload your whole book, and then you ask it questions. I asked it about the emotional elements in the book, and when you’re rewriting a blurb, for example, with emotional elements, it does that now. So I mean, emotion in language is understandable. So this kind of textual analysis is kind of old hat, really.

Patricia: So I was thinking of analyzing the text of the reviews for the emotion. and then if you knew Reviewer1234 had this emotional reaction to this book and had a similar emotional reaction to four other books to yours that you had read, then, oh, okay, that’s the feel I want, so then you would be inclined to try this book you’d never tried before.

Joanna: Absolutely. I am very hopeful about generative search for more granular book discovery. So that’s exciting. Any other changes that you think are significant?

How are you thinking about things for the next decade?

Because you’ve been in the business for several decades already, so what are you thinking about changing your business going forward? Or are you just going to kind of wait and see?

Patricia: I am very much trying to streamline it.

My primary assistant is retiring at the end of June. This is somebody I’ve known for decades, and I’m not going to find somebody else to have a similar situation. So I’m taking things back into my hands, which is sort of the antithesis to streamlining, now that I think about it. Oh, this is not good. But I also am looking to find specialists, more than a general author assistant. So that’s one thing I’m doing.

I think I am sort of waiting to see what’s going on. I’m also thinking I want to do less. I keep saying that, and my friends all laugh at me because then I get an idea. and I don’t know, Jo, I don’t know exactly, but that’s sort of why I wanted to do this.

I want people to understand—first of all, I heard somebody say, “Oh, well, once you pay your dues, then things go smoothly.” No, no, they keep changing.

You have got to be nimble. You’ve got to be able to keep rolling with it. You’ve got to not just accept grudgingly that there’s going to be change, but see that there’s opportunity in all the changes

There may come a point in my life where I say, great, there’s opportunity, I’m just not in the mood. I’m just not gonna deal with it right now.

But until you get to that point, keep looking for those opportunities, roll with the changes, enjoy them as much as you can. As with writing, it’s a process. It’s not a static situation, the business, having the career.

Joanna: It really is about attitude. In terms of looking forward, it’s interesting, you used the word streamline, and you also said you’re bringing some things back to you. I’ve done the same thing.

I think what happens when you bring stuff back to you is it becomes easier to streamline.

So my wonderful virtual assistant, Alexandra, almost a year ago now moved on, moved into doing her own business stuff and is doing incredible things. That’s Alexandra Amor. She’s doing fantastic things.

We’ve been working together for years, and when she handed things back over to me, it was so interesting because I discovered there were a whole load of things I just didn’t need to do any more that I had handed over to her over the years.

But then when I looked at them and thought, am I going to do that myself? I was like, do you know what, I’m just not going to do that.

Patricia: Interesting.

Joanna: Yeah, one of the things, I mean, it’s an interesting thing, but I get a lot of emails every day, and I will respond to emails that are good questions, or that I can be helpful or whatever. You know, I respond to a decent email.

I also get a load of really ridiculous emails. For example, if someone emails me and says, “How do I self-publish a book?” In the past, like, I would be very helpful and direct people to the various areas on my website that would be useful.

But now I’m just deleting that email, I’m not even responding, because if you’re not even going to look on my website for all the free information that you have, then I didn’t want to waste my time on it.

So I think that’s something that was a really big deal for me because I love being useful, I want to help everyone, but come on. I mean, the information is there on my website. What do you think?

Patricia: I answer those emails by saying go look at Joanna Penn’s website. Look at The creative Penn.

But I think that’s great, and I may take that up. I find it very helpful that you said that because I’m behind in that process of taking the things back, behind where you were. I like the idea of assessing those things. It goes back to what I said earlier, do you want to be doing these things forevermore up? Upkeep. I think we all need to check those.

This is not directly associated, but I want to say one other sort of hopeful thing. This past year, I have been so beaten down with all these tech things and spent so much of my time on it. I go to the library two times a week.

This is not because I’m super disciplined, it’s because my dog goes to doggy daycare, and she would be climbing walls if she didn’t get to play for four hours these two days a week.

So I go to the library while she is playing, and that’s when I write. I tell myself I can’t get on the internet, so that is where I write.  There have been times in this past year where those four hours, two days a week, were all the writing I was getting done. 

I noticed over the summer, so we’re talking nine months into this misery, that the words were coming faster at the library, and it was feeling more like a respite. It was the writing being a break. Like remember when you first started, and it was like, oh, I get to write today, I don’t have to go to work. and I’m feeling that more than I have in a long time.

So through all of this tech and business stuff, keep the writing.

and maybe other people will discover too that it brings back some of that special feeling about the writing. I shouldn’t just say keep the writing too, because without the writing, what’s the point of all this?

Joanna: That’s great. I think that’s really important because that is what we do. We’re writers. We love writing. Also that would be coming back to what I said about just letting it go. and like I mentioned, backmatter is just something I just don’t really do much of at all.

Patricia: I love that. I have to think about that.

Joanna: So you’re a more mature writer, which I hope you don’t mind me saying, but you also mentioned before about maybe wanting to work less.

Do you have an idea of what might be retirement, financially or creatively?

Like you said there how much the writing means. Will you get to a point where you’ll just write books, maybe publish them, and then not worry about the rest of the stuff?

Patricia: I think I will. I think I will. As you’ve talked about sometimes with investing in stuff, I have been very fiscally conservative.

My dear sentimental brother said I live like a pauper, so I could retire really early.

Money to me is always about freedom. and yes, so I’m okay. The business has been really tight this year. I’ve spent a lot of money. It’s the first year I don’t think I will be a six-figure gross author since 2011, I think that’s right, it might be 2012. My net is also going to be really bad. But I’m okay, I’m fiscally gonna be okay. 

I’m not giving any of my money to the business. The business has to sustain itself. I had lots and lots of cushions built into my business accounts, as I do, and in my personal accounts. and a lot of those had been diminished. Some of them are just gone.

What I’m seeing now is I’m beginning, just a few dollars at a time, able to start rebuilding the cushions. I never went into debt. The business never went into debt. I’m very averse to that.

I will say, the cushions did for me what they were meant to do, as much as it pains me to see them go. I have this attitude that money goes into savings, it never comes out. But it did, it kept the business going during a difficult time, during the time of high expenditure, and let me get skills, take courses, find people, to adjust.

I think it is vital in any business to have an ability built into your finances — whether they’re difficult or good times — to weather change.

So that ties into me because I think if I were ready to just say, “I’m just going to publish and put the books out and if they earn some, that’s great. I’m not going to work as hard,” I don’t think I would be rebuilding these cushions as much. So that says to me, I’m still thinking there may be adventures ahead on the business side.

There was a point this winter where I thought I was going to do that, that I was just going to say, okay, that’s it, I’m pulling way back on the business. I’m just going to put books out there.

and one of the things I realized and was talking to a wonderful person who been a VA for a long, long time, not mine, but Maria Connor. and she said, “You are halfway across the river in this process. It’s as hard to turn around and go back as it is to go forward.” and I thought, yeah, she was right. She was right.

So there’s that too. People need to recognize that there’s effort in unentangling, of undoing, as well as there is in doing and going forward. So I tend to go forward.

Joanna: Fantastic. I love that you said ‘adventures ahead.’ That is exactly how I feel about where we’re going.

Tell us where people can find you and your books online.

Patricia: I have a Shopify store. It’s almost two months old. So that is shop.patriciamclinn.com, and that makes my heart sing when people get my books from there. So that would be number one. Also PatriciaMclinn.com is my website, and you can link from there to my shop. and I am on Facebook, again, Patricia McLinn, and I’m on Instagram pretty regularly.

Joanna: Fantastic. Well, thanks so much for your time, Pat. That was great.

Patricia: Thank you, Jo.

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