Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

150: Why a Book Deal is Only the Beginning of Your Writing Career: Interview with Annie Downs

The day you get your first book deal feels much the same as getting accepted to a prestigious university, or landing a coveted internship after graduation. However, much like college and your first “real” job, you soon discover the hard work has only just begun.

150: Why a Book Deal is Only the Beginning of Your Writing Career: Interview with Annie Downs

Precious few authors are fortunate enough to quit their day jobs after landing their first book deal. Most are unable to avoid the need for side income to supplement writing revenue even after publishing multiple books.

If you’re lucky enough to get a book advance, this week’s guest on The Portfolio Life recommends treating it like an investment rather than income.

Listen in as author and speaker, Annie Downs, and I talk about why traditional vs non-traditional publishing is not a clear cut decision, and confront the stereotypical mindset of publishing a bound book versus exploring different mediums.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).


Show highlights

In this episode, Annie and I discuss:

  • The hyperbole of reactions when people find out you’re a full-time writer
  • Growing up with a love of books
  • Who does hitting the New York Times bestsellers list really matter to
  • Bridging the gap between getting started with nothing and touring as a speaker
  • Honoring commitments and being faithful in small things and meet deadlines
  • Why being scrappy is a competitive advantage
  • The creative process as a partnership
  • Why first drafts are awesome
  • Applying for day jobs to make ends meet the week a book came out
  • Modeling her company after Lady Antebellum
  • Establishing a personal board of directors
  • Thinking of your writing career as a business
  • Feeling like quitting anytime something felt hard.

Quotes and takeaways

  • “No is not about you, it’s about clearing out the space for the right thing.” –Annie Downs
  • We see rejection and failure as an obstacle and it can also be an opportunity.
  • Take yourself out of the center of the story to understand the greater arc of what’s being told.
  • “It is not wise to treat a book deal or an advance like income. Treat it like an investment in your company.” –Annie Downs
  • “The bigger your advance, the longer it takes to ever see money again.” –Annie Downs
  • You may turn in the first draft, but it takes a lot of people to create the final version of the book.


What are you doing differently to try and get a book deal? How are you treating your writing like a business? Share in the comments

Click here to download a free PDF of the complete interview transcript.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Z B Myers

    Jeff, I am so, so glad that you sent me an e-mail for your podcast with Annie. I have been struggling. I am struggling with priorities, struggling with what to do next, struggling with depression. I currently have three books in different stages of completion and I don’t know where to focus first. THEN, here comes your podcast with Annie. This is taking me into a totally different direction!!!! I am praying for guidance. (Man, I wish you were here to have a discussion with!) I do want you to know, that I enjoyed the podcast immensely, and can only pray that it will help straighten out my mind. None of this is easy, as I suffer from FMS (fibromyalgia) and often have “fibro fog”. Maybe focusing on this new direction will help to clear my mind. Thanks again!