• dairbrown

S2/E19: Publish and Thrive by Sarra Cannon

Updated: Aug 1, 2021

This week, we’re reviewing Publish and Thrive by Sarra Cannon.

The course materials describe Sarra this way: “Sarra Cannon is the bestselling author of more than twenty-five novels, including the popular Shadow Demons Saga. She began her self-publishing career in 2010 and has sold almost three-quarters of a million books and made well over a million dollars in profit with her writing. Heart Breathings is Sarra’s passion project. Started as a way to give back to the author community, Sarra’s hope is to be a voice of encouragement as she gives practical advice for managing your writing career. Sarra currently is living her dream life near the beach in Charleston, South Carolina with her amazingly supportive gamer husband, her adorable red-headed son, and the sweetest new baby girl ever.”

I included the personal information in Sarra’s profile for a reason. This class isn’t simply about publishing, it’s about publishing while living a full and balanced life, or, as she puts it, while thriving.

I first came across Sarra Cannon and her Heartbreathings platform on YouTube. She posts nearly weekly and has amazing, well-organized topical lists like:

  1. How to Plot Your Novel

  2. How to Edit Your Novel

  3. Top 8 Lessons Learned as a Self-Published Author

  4. Elements of a Bestselling (or “Anchor”) Series

She accomplishes a lot of this through a realistic planning program, she calls the HB90 Approach. (She also offers this excellent class quarterly in the form of a bootcamp.) Of all of the people I’ve reviewed for this series, Sarra Cannon is at the top of my list. She goes out of her way to mentor new and aspiring writers and her videos are jam-packed with helpful information all delivered in a warm and accessible style. If I, like Sarra, was inclined toward tattoos, I might get one with her sweet face. I really can’t oversell her. The time I’ve spent “with” Sarra has always paid off. It has been, simply put, a game-changer.

Because of the size and scope of this class, I will barely be able to scratch the surface, but here are my…

Three Things

1. If you’re going to Indie publish, expect to wear a lot of hats. Sarra offers strategies, tips, tools and general advice on the following areas: Writing, Editing, Book Production (Getting/Making Covers, Editing and Proofing, etc.), Book Distribution (Digital and Print), Running a Writing Business 101 (Financials, etc.), Book Marketing, and Life Balance. That’s why it’s a five-week class, people! She has picked up mad skills in the last decade!

2. Know what you want out of your writing career. The advice you get on things like book production, distribution, and marketing is only useful if you start from a solid foundation of knowing what you are (and aren’t) going for. Do you want to earn a living from your work or is it more of a side-hustle or a passion project? Do you want to write books connected in a series or as standalones? Do you know roughly what genre(s) you want to write in? What age group(s) do you want to write for? How many books do you want to publish in a year? Knowing what you want to do, and what you don’t want to do is key! It will impact all of your other decisions about what tools and strategies you want to use to get you where you want to go. For instance, if this is a passion project for you, there’s no reason to worry about how frequently you release your books or weather or not publishing in different genres will make it harder to build sales. But, if you want to make a living via indie publishing, you’ll be listening more keenly about things like the virtues of publishing “wide” (across multiple outlets and in multiple forms) or simply publishing on Amazon, primarily through ebook form. Sarra includes a workbook that asks you these sorts of questions (and more) to help you make a clear plan for the publishing path that’s right for you.

3. Get organized from the beginning. Like most things, getting your ducks in a row at the start will make life infinitely easier when things get rolling and busy. Sarra includes lessons and sample spreadsheets to help you organize things like your tax-deductible expenses, sales tracking, returns-on-investment (ROI) on different marketing activities, and more.

*Hack: Continuing the theme from number three, if you’re a planning to write a series, start a “Series Bible” from the beginning where you keep track of character and setting details, the chronology of story events, etc. Cannon uses a free Wiki to organize hers, but I’ve heard other people use three-ring binders, Google Docs, and more. Sarra’s actually a big fan of using Google, and keeps almost everything else in her Google Drive’s cloud. Bonus Hack: Sarra finds it easiest to work with beta readers using a shared Google Doc.

If you want to make a living from your writing, here’s what Sarra suggests should be at the heart of your book production, distribution, and marketing decisions:

“Through it all, focus on bringing in new readers and turning those readers into loyal fans.” Sarra Cannon, Module 4: Marketing Your Books, Publish & Thrive

This course is designed to take five weeks, with weekly lessons and a Facebook Group where you can connect with other classmates and Sarra herself. It’s offered through the Teachable platform, and I have the Teachable app on my phone and iPad, but Teachable courses are also available anywhere you can get a web browser. I’ve streamed it to my computer, iPad, and TV before with great success. Teachable is a little unique in that there is no website where all of the classes are listed. Classes are grouped by instructor and listed on a unique URL for their courses, so you’ll need to find this through the Sarra’s Heartbreathings platform.


Next week, Robin Knabel will be reviewing Writing Monsters by Philip Athans.

In other Dair-related news:

  1. Fellow author Robin Knabel and I recently posted a new episode of our new podcast, Unsettling Reads. Come check out our spoiler-free review of Raymond Fleishmann’s How Quickly She Disappears and browse our other reviews of books from the crime, fantasy, horror, literary, mystery, sci-fi, suspense, and thriller genres. You can find it all at www.UnsettlingReads.com.

  2. To find out what I’ve been working on, fiction-wise, visit www.HDairBrown.com. Sign up for the email list, and I’ll send you a free story every month. Just one email a month. I promise not to inundate you. I hate a pesky emailer!

  3. Finally, to help you keep track of both your writing goals and your time, visit TheRookieWriter.net and sign up for the email list to get a free undated quarterly version of The Rookie Writer Playbook (a planner/organizer just for writers) to try out. And, of course, The Rookie Writer Etsy shop has full annual, dated Writing Planners available, along with a few other tools and fun swag for writers.

Until then. . .

Happy writing, people!

Check Out these First Books in Sarra Cannon Popular Series (Some free!)

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