On Success

I realized it’s been five years since the publication of Butterfly Swords — October 2010. Crazy, huh?

It’s also fall. And I always get kind of moody and thoughtful in the fall. Partly because in growing up in southern California, it’s one of the few palpable change of seasons. The air gets crisp and a little chilly and the wind picks up in Simi Valley. Plus fall is back to school time and I still get that little buzz leftover from my teaching days when fall was the busiest time of the school year as you’re establishing your class room.

So I thought it was a good time to revisit the five year plan. The cool thing is I actually wrote one down at Bria Quinlan’s blog in 2009: (okay, it was then end of 2009, so let’s pretend I wrote it in 2010)

In 5 years I will:
1. Complete 10 manuscripts – by year 2 I’m going to try to finish more than one book a year.
2. Publish in another genre besides historical romance
3. Take at least 1 research trip to China
4. Do at least 1 writing workshop a year
5. Create or be involved in some sort of program to mentor new writers


I’d say have some sort of steady income from writing, but I don’t know if I want to include that as part of the plan just yet.

1. Complete 10 manuscripts

Clockwork Samurai, which releases in December, is my 10th full-length novel. If you look at novellas, I’ve completed sixteen manuscripts with a couple of additional short stories thrown in there too.

In the romance world, that’s not that much. But you know what? Ten books — published — in five years doesn’t suck. I didn’t even have to throw in the “I was on track until I had twins and my life turned upside-down” card.

So check. Done.

2. Publish in another genre besides historical romance

In 2014, I released Gunpowder Alchemy, which is a steampunk adventure. Sure there are elements of historical in it as well as romantic elements, but as a few disappointed fans and several RITA judges would say, it’s not a romance.

(I say this tongue in cheek. I love my fans and RITA judges and I agree with them. Sorry for disappointing — but Berkley insisted on categorizing this in historical romance as well as steampunk.)

I also published a novella in the This Wedding is Doomed continuity this year. Which is a contemporary romantic comedy.


3. Take at least 1 research trip to China

Look at that. Silly Jeannie.

When I sold Butterfly Swords, I thought it would be really cool to take a trip to Xi’an, formerly the Tang capital Chang’an. And now I had a good excuse! I was going to be a published author! Never happened.

In 2010, when I was first conceptualizing the steampunk, I said that if I sold the series, I’d take a research trip to Beijing. Never happened. (The trip, not the sale. The sale happened.)

When Courtney and I were brainstorming a potential collaboration, I talked about possibly taking a short research jaunt to Shanghai with her. Never happened. (The trip or the collaboration.)

I still look longingly at vacation packages to China. Like just a couple of months ago, there was this awesome Groupon deal….*le sigh*

So no. No check.

4. Do at least one writing workshop a year

This year, I’ve done….three?

Even in the year I was pregnant and gave birth — 2011 — I presented a workshop in San Diego. Barbara Vey posted a very pregnant Jeannie picture on Publisher’s Weekly to prove it — yeah, thanks a lot Barbara. *winks*

I might have been a no-show in 2012, when the twinsies were newborn. I say I might have been, but I have no recollection of that year. I think I wrote two books that year. I think people said they liked them.

So I’m going to say technically I don’t deserve a check, but…I just wrote and delivered a workshop in one week.

Hell yeah I’m taking a check here.

5. Create or be involved in some sort of program to mentor new writers

I’m president of the MORWA chapter this year and will be again next year if I’m voted in come November. Vote for Jeannie!

I think RWA’s most important function is providing access to information and creating avenues for mentoring. Not everyone feels that way, but I do.

I don’t count the Lonely Owls venture because though we are dedicated to providing craft knowledge and advice, it’s designed as a profitable venture and mentoring is not the primary goal.

But due to my active involvement in RWA, I’m saying: Check!

Bonus: I’d say have some sort of steady income from writing, but I don’t know if I want to include that as part of the plan just yet.

Good thing I left that off. LOL. I’ve been making money steadily on writing since 2011. Has it been predictable? Has it been steadily trending upward? No and no. Sometimes I get on myself for that, but when I look back to Jeannie circa 2010, she wasn’t thinking of making bestseller lists or fan adoration or making lots of money.

In retrospect, 4 out 5 goals doesn’t suck. I think it’s pretty badass.

You know, I think writers…well, actually everyone, not just writers…should say that more often to themselves. I mean, if they can believe it and mean it honestly, it’s important to counter all the times you and the world try to tell yourself you’re not badass.

“I’m pretty badass.”

There are a lot of author reports lately about earnings and copies sold and indie publishing is making them so much more than traditional publishing. I think that’s all really awesome because money from writing is pretty awesome.

If I didn’t think that, I’d write for free. And I definitely don’t write for free. Well, except for this blog. 🙂

For me, success has always been about saying what you’re going to do and then setting about doing it. I said I was going to teach. And then I said I was going to write. Then I said I was going to write and teach. Check.

Hi, I’m Jeannie Lin. And I’m a successful author.


  1. Eve
    Oct 24, 2015 @ 19:09:40

    While self-confidence is always good, setting grand targets intimidates me a little because what if none of them are accomplished and I get discouraged to the point of slacking off and…? But some of my targets have been accomplished, just not during the time period I expected, so I guess I shouldn’t stop making targets.

    Btw, I’m waiting for my copy of A Dance With Danger to be shipped & looking forward to reading it.
    P.S. Hoping you’ll make that China trip someday!

  2. Jeannie
    Oct 24, 2015 @ 22:34:13

    Hi Eve!
    My goals weren’t so pie in the sky, but they weren’t insignificant either. Maybe I need to make new 5 year goals now as I’m wandering a little right now.

    I hope you enjoy A Dance with Danger! I loved the hero because he’s an outright scoundrel. A lot of readers complained about that.

  3. Katharine Ashe
    Mar 10, 2016 @ 08:57:11

    Congratulations on five successful years! Your visit to Duke and presentation to our class in the spring of 2015 was a highlight of our semester. I wish we could have you back again every year! Wishing you continued success — and many more wonderful Jeannie Lin novels to come.