Milestones that Provide a Valuable Opportunity to Look Back

So, funny story.

In January, Becca and I hit 10 years of blogging. TEN YEARS. That’s a lot of time, but also not a lot of time, because we all know time flows differently in the book business. It’s all hurry up…and wait. Repeat. Forever.

Writing, publishing, book selling…it is one crazy roller coaster ride. As much as we can sometimes hate parts of it, we also love it. Deeply.  (If not, we all would have gotten off by now, right?)

So much has changed in 10 years, including us being busy to the point where we didn’t even realize it had been 10 years. *facepalm*

That’s also something we all understand: the writing roller coaster isn’t just a maze of loops, drops, and cloud-touching peaks, it also forces a person to contort and twist constantly. Being a writer these days means thinking on the fly, mastering business skills, navigating deadlines, building a brand, and becoming a subject matter expert in many things. You need a live example of adaptability, persistence, and grit? Look at any writer who is steering their career.

Rewinding the Clock

Fact: when Becca & I started blogging at The Bookshelf Muse, we were clueless. Utterly. No idea what we were doing, no idea of where the roller coaster was leading. We just had a dream of publication.

That blog is only a landing page now because we moved everything to Writers Helping Writers. But, thanks to the Wayback Machine, I was able to find an archived version of that first welcome post.

We chose the name “Bookshelf Muse” because we liked the idea that maybe something we did could inspire writers and help them see they could succeed at this book thing we all love so much.

We started with a feature called “Thesaurus Thursday” to explore different emotions and the body language that went with them. We struggled with this and thought if others did too, it might bring some traffic our way. Our first post was “FEAR.”

(Note our “Esteemed Bookshelf Stalkers” list: 24. We were thrilled that 24 people read our blog!)

In 2012, we took a huge leap of faith and decided to turn the Emotion Thesaurus on our blog into a book. *whispers* A self-published book. We did it because people were pirating our content and selling it. Plus, we felt that a) traditional publishing probably wasn’t ready for a “book” made of lists, b) finding a publisher willing to take on two newbies to teach others about writing was unlikely and c) it would take too long to publish. The industry had a pretty negative attitude toward SP back then, and we knew we were half-crazy to do it, but we uploaded the book anyway.

Our hope, factoring in the long tail of self-publishing, was it might sell 50,000 copies in its lifetime. That would put us over the moon.

Never did we imagine it would become a staple for writers, or be used in university programs or analyzed in thesis papers. Never did we fathom it would be translated into 5 other languages or lead to a series of 6 books. We never thought it would also kick off an entire website filled with tools we helped to design so writers could write stronger fiction faster than ever.

Something else happened in January, another milestone that still hasn’t quite sunk in.

We sold our 300,000th book. (About 180,000 of those are The Emotion Thesaurus.)

Ten years ago, we were two writers grappling with how to get our fiction published. We were trying not to make utter fools of ourselves by blogging. We had 3 comments on our first emotion thesaurus post.

We never could have imagined this. Our gratitude to you, our supporters, champions, biggest believers…off the charts. We have no words (oh, the irony for two thesaurus-makers!).

But this post is more than a thank you…it’s a message, too. 

Don’t get caught up in where you are (or aren’t) right now, or how steep the roller coaster incline is ahead of you.




We believe in you. Always have, always will. 🙂

To celebrate these January milestones, Becca and I are giving away signed copies of all our books and maybe something from One Stop for Writers, too. This giveaway is internationally open to all who can legally enter giveaways.

To shake things up a bit, we’re going to draw winners from our newsletter subscriber list. If you subscribe, boom, you’re in the draw! If you haven’t yet and would like to, just go here. Our newsletters are packed with great links and neat things we have found that will help you and your writing. Plus, you’ll always be the first to know what we’re tackling next. 🙂

*prizes have been awarded. Thank you so much for subscribing with us, and keep your eye our for further giveaways!

Thanks for joining us in our first ten years. We hope you’ll stick around for the next ten, too. 🙂


Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in About Us, Emotion Thesaurus Guide, Foreign Rights, Goal and Milestones, Motivational, One Stop For Writers, Positive & Negative Thesaurus Guides, Publishing and Self Publishing, Sales Numbers & Helpful Data, Setting Thesaurus Guides, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Milestones that Provide a Valuable Opportunity to Look Back

  1. Julie Robinson says:

    Congratulations on your success! It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years. That is also when I started with joining on-line writing groups and taking classes. Keep up the good work, and thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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  3. Congratulations and well done on celebrating this special milestone. And thanks for the wonderful reference materials as I stepped out on my own journey several years ago.

  4. Sandy Perlic says:

    Aww, congratulations! Those are some awesome milestones to be celebrating. I think every author’s dream is to have an impact on their readers, and you’ve certainly done that – at least two of the speakers at WriteOnCon this past weekend swore by the Emotion Thesaurus. Hope you have many more milestones to celebrate in the coming years!

    • Aw, thank you! And that is terrific about WriteOnCon—we’re honored! Honestly I think we both find it gratifying to be able to do something that helps the writing community. It is filled with kind, supportive, and hard working people. It seems that they must st juggle more and more to do this for a little vintage, and so they step up to the challenge and do it, which is a testament to their grit. Anything we can do to lighten the load, we do. 🙂 Happy Writing, Sandy!

  5. Laurie Evans says:

    Wow, congrats! I think I remember the look of one of the previous sites. Thanks for publishing the books, they’re so helpful and I recommend them all the time.

    • Lol, yes I was super happy to find that old green archived page, as that was our original layout. We got lucky that the Wayback Machine took an early snap of the site. 🙂 thank you so much for your recommendations and support of the work we do. These milestones belong to all of our supporters because without you, we would not have reached them. ❤️

  6. K.M. Weiland says:

    This is awesome, ladies! Super-huge congrats. It’s funny because I’ve hit most of these milestones at almost the same time. (I hit ten years with my site last December.) I had no idea you’d started your site at almost the same time as did mine.

    My first memory of The Bookshelf Muse was back when I was writing Dreamlander and I went looking for a “color thesaurus.” You’ve been bookmarked ever since!

    It’s been an honor and a pleasure to walk side by side with you down this road. Here’s to the next ten years!

    • Wow, I had no idea we were so close! That’s so crazy.

      And I loved Dreamlander, so I am thrilled you found us when you wrote that one. How awesome is that? And Katie, it has been such an honor. You are so inspiring, knowledgeable, and kind. We feel very privileged to know you and learn from you. <3

  7. Sheila Good says:

    Angela & Becca,
    I don’t remember when I began following but it seems like a long time. Your site has been one of my daiy go-to sites on writing. I’m embarrassed to say I began blogging around the same time. Boy, do I have some catching up to do!
    So proud of you, congratulations of all your acheivements! Thanks for all you do to help writers!

  8. stanalei15 says:

    Congratulations on the milestone! But mostly, thanks so much for sharing your work!

  9. :Donna says:

    You ladies are aMAzing! And a BIG CONGRATS on 10 years! The angels knew you’d be a great pair 😀

    • :Donna says:

      And I forgot to mention…I actually got choked up reading this. How beautiful. How inspirational. I really am SO happy for you both! You, without question, deserve whatever success you achieve 😀 oxox

  10. Celia Lewis says:

    So glad you are celebrating your 10th Anniversary here! Bit congratulations with virtual ballooons and tinsel!!! As an unpublished [so far] writer, I have several of your writing books now, and joined the One Stop site as well. Your helpful easy-to-understand blogs, books, and points have encouraged me when I’m feeling stuck/trapped or feeling as if I’ll never get past a problem in my writing. Merci buckets – I have so much appreciation for the work you two do for writers!

    • Celia Lewis says:

      “big” congratulations… wonder what “bit congratulations” would look like-? 🙂

    • You are lovely! And, you totally made my day with your “Merci Buckets” because I haven’t heard that since I was a kid, and it brought me a nice memory of my mom who always used to say this. In fact, I’ve never heard anyone else use it other than my family, so that is just awesome! Thanks for the congrats – we are thrilled to be able to offer brainstorming nudges whenever they are needed! 🙂

  11. Erika Hayes says:

    I can’t say I have followed for ten years, I can say I wish I had found you so much sooner. When I found the emotional thesaurus on Amazon I went for it.

    It changed my writing it truly has helped me so much I can never say thank you enough. After my initial purchase on Amazon, I ordered every one of the following books that were available– and will continue to purchase any more that are released.
    I have become a member at OneStop and when asked (and sometimes when not asked), I tell everyone Writers Helping Writers, the Thesaurus books, and OneStop is a MUST for anyone that wants to be a writer. I believe that to my core. I have shared your books, blog and One Stop with as many people as possible
    Truly devoted fan of all your work and the kindness you share in an industry that is not always so nice. (Your newsletter/blog announcements even made the cut to my primary inbox, not just updates.) I appreciate you all! It feels like I have a friend in the business.
    Again, from my heart, thank you for remaining dedicated and providing so much to so many! You inspire many to keep pushing through.

    • Erika, you are so wonderful–you have no idea how much I appreciate your kind words. I am so glad you found us and we were able to help you. That is so wonderful of you to pass on word of us to others too–I can’t thank you enough! And you definitely have a friend in the business. Becca and I both believe we are all part of a chain, and we can all help one another to all succeed together. I think many in our community feel this way, which is one of the reasons why it is such a wonderful thing to be part of.

      Happy writing, always!

  12. What a privilege to celebrate TEN years with you as well as 300,000 books sold! The Emotion Thesaurus has become my staple give-away when I do workshops. I always ask who already owns it and, always, several hands go up. Then I say to them, “Do the people who didn’t raise their hand want to win this?” The answer is always an enthusiastic yes! I presented to a group of 60 in St. Louis a few weeks ago. During break three people told me they weren’t taking chances with the drawing. They ordered online while I was presenting. 🙂 I plug the Emotional Wound Thesaurus and your website as well. The Emotion Thesaurus just happens to work better as a resource for teaching deep point of view. Thank you for all the encouragement and great resources you ladies provide!

    • Oh my gosh, Karen! you are just so fantastic for doing that! I can’t tell you what it means to know people are in our corner like this – seriously if you were in the room I would give you the BIGGEST hug!

  13. Congratulations on your first decade!
    Becca and Angela, you are both an inspiration and a role model to all of us.
    Keep moving forward. Keep teaching and writing. Keep growing and reaching more people.
    I love your books and blog posts.

  14. Congratulations, Becca and Angela! Thanks for all the help over the years through your blog, website and books. Invaluable.

    • Thank you Anne! I was truly shocked when I realized we’d hit that 10 year mark. Crazy to think we’ve been blogging that long. We have met so many wonderful people through it–so very grateful we decided to get into blogging!

  15. Congratulations, ladies! You’re living the dream. I won’t insult you by saying you’re “lucky.” (Isn’t it funny how the harder people work, the “luckier” they get?) I’m happy for you both. You deserve every bit of your success.

    • Yes, indeed! Luck has it’s place for sure but the more you put into it, the more opportunities seem to be within reach. I would love everyone to keep this in mind when they get discouraged. I know I certainly felt my share, but we have to just push through it and keep going. You never know what might be waiting around the next corner!

  16. Lori Widdison says:

    Woohooo!! Congratulations and happy blogoversary!!

  17. Congratulations on 10 years!! Your books are amazing and I tell everyone about them. They certainly have helped me become a better writer. xo

  18. julie Brown says:

    Congratulations on TEN years! I love your work. Some newsletters and blogs are not work the time it takes to click through (all they want to is to sell you something), but WRITERS HELPING WRITERS is unique and excellent. Hope to meet you both at a conference some day 🙂
    Best of everything!
    Julie Brown

  19. Sharon Mayhew says:

    Congratulations on all your milestones! I think I’ve been following you since 2009.

  20. Joy V Spicer says:

    10 YEARS??!!! WOW! And 300,000 books sold! CONGRATULATIONS!!
    I wish I could remember when I first discovered your wonderful blog, but I feel like I’ve had access to it forever.
    I cannot believe your hard work was being pirated, what’s wrong with people?! I bought the Emotion Thesaurus when it first came out and it’s my go-to resource when working on drafts. In fact, it’s in front of me now as I work on my current WiP 🙂 I also recently treated myself to the Emotional Wound Thesaurus; so glad I did as it’s been a big help with one of my characters.
    I’m not a big fan of newsletters; of all the ones I signed up for, I’ve whittled them down to one. But I like the sound of what you include in yours 🙂
    Thanks for all the hard work you put in, and for being ‘here’. Here’s to another 10 years! And much, much more 🙂

    • Thank you so much for the congrats, Joy, and for giving some of our books a test drive. And i promise, our newsletter isn’t cluttered with spam, and shows up only here and there – just sort of an added supplement of helpful writing links and a chance for us to touch base on what we’re working on as we don’t often talk about this at our blog. 🙂

      Happy writing–I hope your latest project is going great!

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