SPS-198: The Self-Published Author, circa 1999 – with Jeff Wheeler

Fantasy author Jeff Wheeler drew inspiration from his literary heroes and began writing at a young age. Adulthood led him into a corporate job, but his desire to write never left him. Today he shares with James what it was like in the trenches of self-publishing in the days before CreateSpace belonged to Amazon and why he later accepted a publishing deal from Amazon’s imprint, 47North.

Show Notes

  • An update on James’ first book The Last Flight
  • Developing a sound financial plan to become a full time writer
  • Re-reading the classics to learn from what they are doing
  • Getting into self-publishing at its inception
  • Struggling to find an audience in the early days of self-publishing
  • Why it’s never been easier to be an author

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH Jeff Wheeler

Speaker 1: On this edition of the Self-Publishing Show.

Jeff Wheeler: When I started, things like having a dev editor, things like having good proofreaders, finding excellent cover artists … All those tools that all the publishing houses use are available to you and to me.

Speaker 1: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers, no more barriers, no-one standing between you and your readers.

Do you want to make a living from your writing? Join indie bestseller Mark Dawson and first-time author James Blatch as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success. This is the Self-Publishing Show. There’s never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Hello. Yes, it’s the Self-Publishing Show. Welcome along. I’m James Blatch.

Mark Dawson: And I’m Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: So you are, and we are recording these back-to-back, for people who are closely observing. I have changed the color in the background, though, which throws people off a little bit. But you look identical.

Mark Dawson: I always look the same. Slightly less hair. Actually, I saw some pictures of me yesterday — I was looking through my phone with my daughter — from 10 years ago, and she was like, “Who’s that, Daddy?” I went, “That’s me.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“And that’s because of you,” was the answer to that.

James Blatch: Yeah. Exactly.

Mark Dawson: I looked much better in those days.

James Blatch: When we started the podcast I don’t think you had a beard, did you? Or did you?

Mark Dawson: Now and again. But no, I’ve had this probably for about a year now.

James Blatch: Oh. I think you’ve had it longer than that. I may have to look back at the podcast.

Mark Dawson: Possibly.

James Blatch: I think it’s become a bit of a fixture. I mean, it’s slightly trimmed today.

Mark Dawson: Well, it is trimmed.

James Blatch: It has been bushier than that.

Mark Dawson: Yes. I had a beard trim before the Kindle Storyteller Awards on Monday. I thought I’d better.

James Blatch: At your coiffeuse.

Mark Dawson: I looked like Father Christmas.

James Blatch: Yeah, well, the time’s coming. Well, that’s good. And I think it’s still … I guess still the whole Shoreditch … What are they called? Hipsters thing going on. Is that your thing? I don’t know.

Mark Dawson: No, I don’t think so. Shoreditch hipsters would have great, big beards.

James Blatch: Yes.

Mark Dawson: And I don’t have a great, big beard. But no. Anyway, I don’t live in Shoreditch anymore.

James Blatch: No.

Mark Dawson: And there’s no such thing as a Salisbury hipster.

James Blatch: No. No. Salisbury … Priests and monks.

Okay, look, this is episode 198. We’re two away from the big 200. We have Jeff Wheeler on today, who we’re going to hear from in a few minutes.

Jeff was right at the beginning, even before the beginning, really, of indie books. It’s interesting to talk to him. And that’s what we do, talk about how he developed from going to, basically, finding a way of selling books online before Kindle and everything else to being a good online marketer now.

He’s living the life that he loves. Absolutely loves being away from the nine-to-five, writing, I think he says, maybe three or four books a year. Something like that. And makes good money from it, which is always a good story. So Jeff’s coming up in a minute.

I did promise I was going to update people on The Last Flight. The first book, The Last Flight. Drum roll.

I’ll tell you … Really excited. We’re recording this … Where are we? October the something-th.

Mark Dawson: 17th.

James Blatch: 17th of October at the moment. My watch has died. And I have sent it out to four or five very carefully selected betas, heard a little slice back from two of them, who’ve … In fact, I’ll say Nathan Coops is one of them, who … Nathan Coop, rather, is one of them who is a-

Mark Dawson: Van Coops.

James Blatch: Van Coops, yeah, who is a pilot as well, so, hoping he’ll pick up something on that front. He’s been very positive and also given me some great first-time novelist advice on something I’m doing at the moment now.

I haven’t done the revision process with Jenny, which was taking the developmental revisions, which I did say I did find quite laborious every time I approached it. I do find that quite difficult, having in your head different parts of the story at the same time, and had to really be methodical about when I went through to make sure they’re all … You didn’t give yourself more problems. And I didn’t particularly enjoy that.

But having done that and got to the end of it. That took longer. You were quite right. You said to me, “This will take longer than you think.” It did take longer than I thought, and it’s a long book as well.

I’m now going through it, just basically polishing. Rewriting some sentences. Taking the clunky, “He walked over there to … ” “He opened the curtains.” Or just that sort of thing, just to make it flow a bit better, which, I have to say, I’m really enjoying. I’m getting 5,000 words a day done like that. My best day has been 12,000 words through. So I’m a quarter of the book through at the moment. And I am also trimming it a bit as well.

Mark Dawson: Good.

James Blatch: So it’s down to about 195 at the moment, and hopefully will become less than that. It’s also, for the first time, going through it and starting to feel that this is now in shape. It’s sort of there now. It’s where all that work has started to show me a book that you can turn the page and it makes sense, so I’m really, really excited about …

We always do this, don’t we? I mean, I do this. I don’t know if you do. You go through periods of thinking it’s awful, periods of thinking, oh, it’s quite good, and then it’s awful. At the moment I’m just sort of being a little bit more moderate about it, thinking, this is a good first novel where it is.

But what I’ve done, really exciting, this week … I’ve had this idea for my second novel banging around. It’s not the moon thing. That’s just a side project. Based on one of the characters. An American character, so it’s going to be a prequel to this book. Yesterday or the day before … I finished it yesterday, but the day before … Went for a walk not thinking about it, came back, and outlined it. And I’m so happy about the outline.

I’ve been thinking about it for some time, actually, thinking, I know how it starts. I sort of know how it ended. But I really didn’t know how the story was going to work. And I just sat there, and I’m really excited about the outline.

Going to flesh that out a little bit more. Working on the character arcs now, and it’s about a 2,000-word description at the moment, so that in November I can use NaNoWriMo … And you’ve got to keep me honest in November because we’re together a bit in Vegas. I’ve got to try and get a big chunk of the draft done. Well, 50,000 words. And also try and make sure this book is 75 to 100,000 words, not 200,000 words, which I’m thinking about at this stage.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. Well, you’ll have a better idea of the flow of it just having done it once.

James Blatch: Yes.

Mark Dawson: So you won’t lose control like you clearly have done this time.

James Blatch: Some books are long.

Mark Dawson: They are long. I don’t know until I read it, but I think it might be too long. But I could be wrong. It’s not really my genre. But this is my favorite part of the process as well, is the … Kind of the final polishing and tweaking and changing is quite fun. Because you can see the end now.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: You’re definitely within striking distance of being able to upload it, hit Publish, and then see what happens. You’ll get your first reviews. You’re going to get your first bad reviews.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: And get lots of good ones, hopefully, and make some money. Amazon will send you a check, or will pay into your account, which is a fun situation to be in. So you’ll be good.

I’m curious as to how it will launch. We’ll have to think about how we launch it. Lucky you know me, really, aren’t you?

James Blatch: Yes.

Mark Dawson: Because I can give you some advice.

James Blatch: So on my list is to watch some of the 101 sessions in more detail than I’ve done in the past, particularly the launch sequence and the launch countdown. I need to do quite a bit of work on my email list, which is entirely set up for prelaunch at the moment. An author who has no books.

I need to have a way of onboarding people at the end of the book. I need to have a way of onboarding people towards purchasing a book.

Mark Dawson: Well, one thing I like a lot which I haven’t tried yet, which I think is a very, very good idea, is what Lucy Score did after we spoke to her in NINC. Lucy is a student of the ads course with her husband, and is doing extremely well now. Just to prove that there is no exclusivity on good ideas, she’s come up with an idea that I hadn’t thought of before and I think is brilliant.

So instead of a novella or a novel as the reader magnet, she uses exclusive epilogues. So it doesn’t have to be very long. It could be like 1,000 words. But if you get someone right at the end of a book and you say, “Look, there’s more to this story … ” It’s not kind of critical to the story, because you don’t want to piss off readers who don’t want to get it, but if you say, “There’s another scene that you might like to read,” I think that would be extremely attractive as a magnet.

I think she told me … I could be getting the numbers wrong here, but I think she went from 5,000 subscribers to 30,000 subscribers just using that method in six months, or something along those lines, which is ridiculous.

So I’m going to do that with one of the books I’ve got coming up. I will write a short epilogue and put that out there. It’s a very good idea, I think.

James Blatch: That is a good idea. I mean, look, what I’d planned is to have … Because I think I mentioned this before, that there are a couple of crashes in the book, so I was going to do the air accident report from 1966.

I have to say, the government in the U.K. … I think it’s the third time now I’ve gone back to the National Archive to get the original copies of some accident reports. They are so difficult to actually … You pay them money, but they still don’t seem to actually produce the work they’re supposed to do. Enough of that, though.

So I’ve been Googling how to age the paper and then sort of scan it. With tea.

Mark Dawson: Tea.

James Blatch: Tea, yeah, exactly, and light. Light and tea.

Mark Dawson: Yeah.

James Blatch: Another option for me, because the second novel will be a prequel, is I could do the first couple of chapters. Because now I’m doing the prequel, I’ve stuck something in there. It’s just a very slight allusion to this character having a reason for being in the U.K. Things didn’t go well for him in the States. Just basically leave it like that. But I suppose I could put at the end, “If you want to find out why he was in the U.K. and what happened to him, download this.”

Mark Dawson: You can try that, yeah. That’s a good idea too. There’s lots of options. One of those two or those three ideas would be worth testing. And you can do that. You can test it and see how it works, and monitor what your sign-ups are like in terms of the conversion percentage from the copies sold to subscriptions over two, four weeks, six weeks. Then do the one that gets the highest conversion. That’s what you go for.

James Blatch: And these are going to be, I think, for you and for Lucy and … I’ve spoken to a couple of other people in my interviews recently. These are good mailing list sign-ups. These are not people after a free book who don’t know you. These are people who’ve read one of your books and want to know more, so that’s a good-

Mark Dawson: No, they’re the best.

James Blatch: That’s a step up, and-

Mark Dawson: Organic is always the best. People who’ve read the book … You can’t get better than those subscribers. They’re gold dust, so that’s why you want to get that right.

James Blatch: Yeah. So, I’ve got a few more days of polishing, which I’m enjoying. That sounds a bit rude. And hear back from the betas. Hopefully they won’t say anything too dramatic.

Then Jenny wants to have a chat through with it with me on feedback from the betas that we’ll discuss together.

She’s, by the way, doing a brilliant course on revising your book. So she’s basically taking a lot of stuff we’ve been through together … I think you had a little sneak preview of this course material.

Mark Dawson: It’s excellent.

James Blatch: She’s very, very good. We’re going to put this out as a standalone course, and it’s happening really quickly, so it won’t take too long to be out there for you.

Haven’t thought of a price yet, but it’ll be a lower-end price for this. But something very useful for people on how to turn your book from good to great. How to really make those page-turning, compelling stories, which we all want.

So that’s where I am. It’s exciting. Obviously, I’m going to be going to 20Books Vegas with people saying, “Where’s your book, dude?”

Mark Dawson: Probably. I’ll tell you what you should do. Are you speaking on stage?

James Blatch: No, I’m not this year.

Mark Dawson: Oh, that’s a shame. What we could do is we could launch it live on stage.

James Blatch: We could launch it in your session.

Mark Dawson: I could bring it on at the end of my keynote and we could hit Publish live on stage.

James Blatch: Yeah, but where are we?

Mark Dawson: You’ve got about three weeks.

James Blatch: Yeah. Hm. We’ll see. It depends.

Mark Dawson: Three weeks. I could write a novel in three weeks.

James Blatch: Yeah. I know you could. Yes. It depends on the beta readers, really. I can get through my polishing in that time, but it depends on them.

And like I say, they got an unpolished, 200,000-word book to read, and it’s very kind of them to read it. I have said to Nathan, “Beginning, middle, and end would be great,” just to give me the general feedback. But I think a couple of others are plodding through it. Hopefully racing through it, because they can’t stop reading it.

Mark Dawson: Yes. That’s the idea.

James Blatch: I hope they haven’t got to the sex scene. Right.

Mark Dawson: I had a fun thing the other day. A author … Well, a reader of mine, an advance reader, a guy called Neil … He was in the police. He was in police surveillance.

James Blatch: Was he?

Mark Dawson: Yeah. He did a couple of quite well-known cases. He worked on the Levi Bellfield case.

James Blatch: Ooh.

Mark Dawson: And a couple of others. Some of these are fairly nasty cases. Anyway. He’s been a very helpful beta reader for me for a while, and my example — I don’t think this is bigging myself up too much — inspired him to write himself. He sent me this book a while ago and I read it, I’ll be honest, not expecting much, and it was effing good, right?

James Blatch: Right.

Mark Dawson: I was like, this is … He can write. He really can. He did this scene. It was … Basically, it was really good.

I told him that and offered to help him if I could. Then he had a second book come out, and I just did a little … Posted to my Facebook group for my readers, and I don’t know, maybe 20 or 30 of them went and bought it. The reviews they’ve come back … They’re like, “I was up until three o’clock last night. Couldn’t put it down. It’s really good.”

One guy said, “It’s as good as Milton.” I’m like, “I’m not happy about that. I’m not happy about that.” So no, Neil’s doing really well. So that just goes to show that that kind of marketing …

James Blatch: He’s self published?

Mark Dawson: Yeah, he is. Well, kind of. He’s published through a small press, which is comprised of two people who’ve taken all of our courses. I don’t know who they are. They may be listening. But I think they’ve done a pretty decent job with Neil’s first book, and it looks to me like his second book might be pretty good as well, so he’s making some money and … Not tons yet, but he’s only got two books out. Well, one book and a pre-order.

So yeah, it’s nice to see. He’s kind of seen what I’ve done, started writing himself. And he’s got a lot of experience. I think he may even have been ex-military before he went into the police, so tons of … He’s very … When he writes about surveillance-

James Blatch: He knows what he’s talking about.

Mark Dawson: It feels exactly like this is how it is.

James Blatch: Wow. Great.

Mark Dawson: He’s called Neil Lancaster, and his second book is called Going Dark. Tom Novak is his protagonist. If you’re interested in espionage thrillers and you’ve read all of mine, then go and check out Neil’s. I think he’s got some talent.

James Blatch: That’s amazing, that just a mention to your Facebook group did that for him. What will it do when you mention my book to your Facebook group-

Mark Dawson: Well-

James Blatch: And put it in your newsletter?

Mark Dawson: I don’t do newsletters, I’m afraid, but I’ll certainly mention it in the Facebook group.

James Blatch: You do emails to your … I’m one of your readers. I get your emails.

Mark Dawson: But I’ve never, ever recommended anybody else in the email, ever.

James Blatch: Oh, I see. You don’t do recommendations in your emails.

Mark Dawson: No.

James Blatch: Okay.

Mark Dawson: But Facebook is different. I’ll definitely give you a shout-out on Facebook.

James Blatch: Well, there’s a first time for everything, also. That’s the other thing about that. So you should never say never again.

Mark Dawson: There are some things that I would never say yes to.

James Blatch: Good. Okay. Well, that’s where I am.

I did put an alternate cover idea into one of the forums, into the Genius forum, the 101 group, a couple of days ago. Stuart Bache did a fantastic job. After the photo shoot we had lots of different angles and photos, and he put together an alternate cover, which I thought looked great.

I completely understood a lot of the feedback was that the first one was very good, had a real grip to it, sold the story and the era and everything else clearly.

And the second one, whilst it was a striking cover, didn’t necessarily convey those key elements that you want to embolden, empower your reader with. What’s the word? Give your potential reader that knowledge.

So that was a really good lesson in understanding what process goes into making a good cover decision. It isn’t necessarily the striking picture, or what you consider a good cover. It’s a cover that’s going to work in a particular circumstance.

Mark Dawson: I liked the second one. I thought the second one with a change in … I didn’t think the type was quite right, but I thought it was really good.

Then someone said why they’d chosen the first one, and it was a good point. It could have been … Unless you know the equipment that the guy, you’re wearing, looks like it could be modern.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: So you wouldn’t necessarily know it’s from the ’60s. So I think in that instance it made more sense to stick with the previous one, which is very good as well.

James Blatch: Yeah. And of course, in two years, do a little refresh and a relaunch of the book, and have a new cover on it.

Mark Dawson: You can. Yeah.

James Blatch: And that will be there. We’ll see how that goes. Good. So this is an exciting point in my journey, Mark. In my journey. I’m having a journey.

Mark Dawson: Your journey doesn’t get mentioned in my Facebook group. I’ll talk about your publication, but we don’t do journeys.

James Blatch: It’s not about the destination. It is sort of about the destination.

Well, I’ll do some proper thank yous to everyone who’s … It’s been like giving birth, this, for the community, hasn’t it? It’s been a laborious exercise. Lots of gas and air and screaming, but eventually we’ll get there, and it’s coming soon.

Now, let’s talk about somebody who has a shed load of books out, and as I said earlier, started right at the very beginning. We were going to talk about world building. That was kind of what Jeff and I talked about in advance, but the conversation really was about his progress from just trying to find a way of writing and selling stories online to living the life he’s living now as a result of the sort of digital revolution. He’s been there through all of those phases. It was a compelling talk just about that. So that’s what we’re talking to Jeff about, and Mark and I will be back for a quick chat off the back of this interview.

Jeff, welcome to the Self-Publishing Show.

Jeff Wheeler: Thank you. It’s great to be here.

James Blatch: Now, I reckon we can divide up people in self-publishing who I talk to on this show in two big groups. One is the group that sort of were doing it right in the early days, before everyone else had latched onto it, and those who’ve joined in the last couple of years. You are very much in the former.

I think you have very early self-publishing experience, do you not?

Jeff Wheeler: I do. My very first was in 1999, and it was a disaster, but that was my first taste of printing, actually, a hard-cover children’s book. It failed miserably, but then I tried it again a couple of years later, and that didn’t work either. So yeah, I did it quite a few times before things seemed to work out.

James Blatch: Okay. Well, look, let’s get the skinny on Jeff.

You’d better give us a potted history of your publishing career.

Jeff Wheeler: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was in middle school. Reading fantasy just was something that fed my imagination, but … So I spent most of my high school years just writing for fun. I wrote five novels while I was in high school, all terrible.

But it was something that I was passionate about enough to stop playing video games to do something else. And it was while I was in college … I was a history major studying Medieval English history, actually, and I just kept writing on the side. Took every creative writing class that I could. But I got a career at Intel Corporation, a tech company, and had to pay the bills.

James Blatch: We’ve all heard of Intel.

Jeff Wheeler: Yeah. Had to pay the bills and things like that, but I kept writing on the side, and would maybe squirrel away one night a week where I could write my stories. After being with Intel for 21 years, I finally decided to retire early and pursue my dream of being a full-time author, which I’ve been doing ever since then.

James Blatch: You made that last bit sound easy. You retired early. Obviously you did, perhaps, some financial planning around this. But you really wanted to change careers.

You wanted this to be something that brought in some money, and not just an evening hobby.

Jeff Wheeler: I did, and when I got my first publishing deal with Amazon Publishing, I didn’t jump ship right away. I was a very meticulous financial planner. I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to evaporate in one year.

So I signed a six-book deal with them. The first three books I’d already self-published, and I let them remarket it and repackage it and change the covers, and really make it look a lot better. Audiobooks, that kind of thing.

But they also bought the next three books that I hadn’t finished writing yet. So I waited until those three books were done and in the pipeline before I said, “It’s been more than a year, more than two years, more than three years. Okay. I think this is sustainable.”

I talked to them and said, “If I write full-time, I can produce three books a year,” is what my guess was. And I’ve been able to do between three and four books a year since then. So that made a lot of difference, having some volume behind it as well.

James Blatch: So there was a safety overlap for you. That must have been a tiring, busy period for you.

Jeff Wheeler: Oh, very much. My wife and I have five kids, so-

James Blatch: Wow.

Jeff Wheeler: I was not just thinking about being a dad and being an employee, but thinking about how am I going to pay for their college in the future? So I really wanted to make sure I wasn’t jumping the gun and being too excited, because I know some author friends who quit their jobs right away.

But I said, “No. Let’s make sure that this is going to be a safe path,” and I’ve never regretted that decision. It’s really worked out well.

James Blatch: Okay. Well, let’s go to that first series that you eventually sold to Amazon. You wrote the first three, then.

Had you been writing and experimenting in different genres, or you’ve always been in the same genre?

Jeff Wheeler: When I was in high school and college I wrote thrillers and some historical novels. But I really decided my first love was fantasy, and I thought I could write something new. Well, basically, what was happening is when I was trying to publish my Muirwood series, a lot of fantasy that was coming out at those times was Game of Thrones, things that was very dark.

Grimdark was becoming more and more popular, and I was really wanting to hearken back to the days of Terry Brooks and the authors like C.S. Lewis that had inspired me. But there just wasn’t a lot being published. It just seemed like everything was chasing after the dark, gritty fantasy.

And I thought, well, that’s what’s being published. That’s what everybody’s writing to, but I really like what my publisher ended up calling entry-level fantasy. The things that would entice a young reader, or even older readers like myself to reminisce about those days again.

So I wrote what I’m passionate about and things that I cared about, and it was so rewarding to see that the market for that still existed and that the readers were hungering for that kind of writing to become popular again. I was super happy that the audience hadn’t completely abandoned the field when I got into it.

James Blatch: Yeah. Well, of course, the books you referenced there are very famous books that lots of us have read at least one of those series, particularly C.S. Lewis. But that’s, I would imagine, in this day and age quite a challenging genre to write into.

Are you aiming your book at 10- to 14-year-olds? In which case, they’re quite difficult to market to. Or … I mean, adults do read, of course, those fantasy books as well.

Who are you aiming it at?

Jeff Wheeler: When I was creating the Muirwood series, the target market that I was going for was moms and their daughters. Moms who loved to read and wanted to share books with their kids, yet in the same time felt that the fare that was coming out was a little bit rougher than they would want their kids to read. So I thought, well, let me make something that both could enjoy.

What has absolutely astounded me is … I just got an email last week from a 79-year-old gentleman in Italy who loves my books. I found that it wasn’t just moms and daughters, but I have every demographic from 10-year-olds to 80- or 90-year-olds.

So I think it was the themes that I was writing about. It just was not limited to what I thought it was and how I found the desire to write the kind of books that I liked to read, that I wanted to read, that I wish there was more of, appealed to a lot larger audience that I imagined originally.

James Blatch: So you’re at Intel at this point, and you sit down to write the first …

Did you plan this to be a series at the time that you started writing?

Jeff Wheeler: Absolutely. When I come up with story ideas, it’s usually in a three-book story arc. I know publishers like series too. They don’t want just one book. They’d like to see a series, but not necessarily 20 books in a series.

So I thought a trilogy would probably be about the right form factor for it. When I conceived the plot, I had all three legs of it together.

But what I did is I went back and I reread a lot of the classics that have stood the test of time. Things like Jane Austen’s works and L.M. Montgomery and Frances Hodgson Burnett. Books that I’ve always enjoyed. And I just said, “Well, why? Why have these books survived for hundreds of years? What is it about them that is appealing to readers, and what can I learn from that?”

I’ve learned since that that a lot of authors do this. We analyze. When something really popular comes out we go and take a look and say, “What was it? What was it about this book that entranced readers so much?”

Like when Harry Potter came out, I was one of the first people on board. It’s like, “What is she doing that is making these stories so compelling?” I like to reverse engineer and just kind of understand, what were the touching-points that really appealed to me and to other readers?

I immersed my mind in a lot of these classics just to see what were those themes and things that drew me in, and just tried to touch on some of those same themes. Not copying their stories, but just touching on those themes that just resonate with the human heart.

James Blatch: So have you cracked the code?

Jeff Wheeler: Well, I think obviously I have with the 25 books out right now.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Jeff Wheeler: And hitting the bestseller charts a couple of times. It’s like, okay, I think those human themes transcend time. And so yeah, I think I have. But you’re going to have to find that out for yourself-

James Blatch: Yeah.

Jeff Wheeler: Like we all have to do, right?

James Blatch: Well, I was thinking you could teach us all. “So this is why Jane Austen and J.K. Rowling have enduring qualities.” I mean, they’re all great books, we should say. Pride and Prejudice … I think I probably didn’t understand what a great book it was until about 20 years ago.

I was probably in my 30s when I read it again and thought it’s the most brilliant, witty … I mean, it’s a comedy, effectively, that book. It’s dressed up as this romance and exploration of embarrassment and pride, as she says, but it’s a comedy and it’s brilliantly written. So there’s something that works. Anyway. You just happened to mention one of my favorite books.

So you’re planning this out. You’re still at Intel at this stage, and your plan is now, having experimented and enjoyed your writing, to try and coalesce it into something commercial. So at this stage … Is this in ’99 still?

Jeff Wheeler: No. That was-

James Blatch: No. Actually, that was your early venture, wasn’t it? Yeah.

Jeff Wheeler: It was. So this was like 2007, 2008.

James Blatch: Okay. So still very early. It’s pre-Kindle. Pre-Kindle, I think.

Jeff Wheeler: Pre-Kindle. Yeah.

James Blatch: Yeah. So this is a commercially orientated plan.

Were you thinking at this stage, this’ll be something I publish?

Jeff Wheeler: Absolutely, and I had a plan for it. Okay, here’s the agents that I’m going to solicit this to. These are the publishers that I think might be interested in this.

I queried over 40 different agents, and out of all of them I got a couple nibbles. One of them actually wanted to see the whole manuscript, and I thought, this is it, right? I’ve made it. I got my ticket.

Then, after waiting months and months, I got the rejection. After they’d read the sample, the first three chapters, then the whole manuscript, and they said no. I was at that point where … Well, what do I do? I’ve tried 40-some different agents. Maybe I should consider self-publishing, printing it in a physical book through CreateSpace. Kindle had come out by this point, and I thought, well, maybe I should do that.

But I really decided to just sit on it and just to keep writing the next book, and then the next book. I stopped pursuing self-publishing as well as agents until I finished all three of those Muirwood books.

It was interesting, because as this was happening it’s when the platforms were being invented for self-publishing. So by sitting on it, I was waiting for the market or the industry to evolve and to be at that tipping point, and it happened-

James Blatch: Yeah. For the technology to catch up.

Jeff Wheeler: With what was happening.

James Blatch: Yeah. You needed the technology to catch up with your ambition.

Jeff Wheeler: So that’s absolutely what happened. And the funny thing is because Amazon bought CreateSpace … Because I’d been looking at them independently, and then Amazon bought them.

And because I had signed up for their newsletter or something, I got an email from them saying, “Hey, we’re offering a discount to self publish both Kindle and in print, for this amount.” I looked at that and I talked to my wife about it and said, “It doesn’t cost that much. People like friends and family want to read the book. Maybe I should just put it out there for family and friends and see what happens.”

I wrote them back and I said, “Well, if this is your discount for one, would you give me a discount for three? Because I have three books written.” And they said yes, and they gave me an even better deal. So my wife and I talked about it. We’d tried all these things. Said, “Let’s just try it.” And so we did.

I still have those versions of the book, and they don’t look as good as the new versions do, but I remember getting them in my hands for the first time. It’s like, now I have the complete book.

But now how do I tell people about it, right? Isn’t that the next question people have? It’s like, what do you do next?

James Blatch: Well, let me just dwell on that for a moment, because what was working against you at that stage really was that self-publishing was very closely aligned with vanity publishing in people’s minds. It must have been in your mind as well, thinking, this is a real fallback. If I can’t get published, I fall back to this, and it’s like a second choice. I can feel the hesitancy.

But inspired and insightful of you to have pushed that to one side and said, “Let’s do this.”

Jeff Wheeler: Well, I had tried it before. I had published a couple of books before. But what kept giving me encouragement is every time family members or people had read the book, they said, “I want to share this with five other people.” I would say no, because I didn’t want to lose … I didn’t want to send them a Word document that could get taken away. So I just kept saying no, but I’d share it with just friends and with family.

It was finally some feedback from a high-school friend who I had reacquainted with on Facebook and said, “Jeff, are you still writing?” And she asked me for a copy of my Muirwood series. I’d only been done with the first two books by that point. She just inhaled them and was like, “I want to share this with people.” This is somebody I haven’t talked to in 20 years, and they love it.

That gave me some encouragement that maybe others, maybe strangers would like it too. That it’s not just family saying, “Good job, Jeff. You’re doing a good job,” but that other people would want to see it. And I wouldn’t know unless I let it out there into the world.

The traditional publishers didn’t want it, and they were the gatekeepers. They stopped things from going forward. I said, “Well, we have these new technologies now that at least make it possible, and let’s see what happens.” And that’s a story too, of what happened after that, after it came out into the wild, because success did not happen overnight.

James Blatch: We’ll come onto that in a second. I’m just interested also in the CreateSpace model at that point, because I came into CreateSpace much later, not long before it got morphed into KDP print on demand, I guess last year.

At that point, it was simply the mechanism for creating your paperback, and it would be sold and you’d be charged on demand, whatever. £5.40, whatever, per copy, and you’d make a profit on that, a royalty on that. But in your day …

You’re talking about a price that you are being charged to create the book, and it wasn’t quite as integrated as it was when I came to it.

Jeff Wheeler: Yeah. They charged you for layout design. They charged for coming up with a cover. They were a full service. Right now, I would never use a full-service platform. You’d go hire your own artist.

But I didn’t know that at the time, and so I was just looking for the whole bundle of … What’s the least expensive way I could get the book into a physical form or in a ebook form so that I could at least share it with people and just see what would happen with that?

I didn’t even know about dev editors and other kind of things that professional authors use. I wish I had known, because I would have hired a dev editor.

James Blatch: So did you have any editing?

Jeff Wheeler: I just had editing that I had gotten through some of the network that I had, just friends that were English majors and things like that. But there were so many typos and so many problems which really exist in the self-publishing sphere.

Mine had all of that in it, but thankfully the story was strong enough that people kept reading, even though they found the mistakes. I really believe that powerful storytelling can overcome a multitude of sins.

James Blatch: Yes. Well, it reminds me of T.S. Paul, who we’ve had on this podcast in the past. His early books, by his own admission, were littered and badly done, and he didn’t know what he was doing. But the stories are gripping and page-turning, and it didn’t seem to stop him in his tracks. He’s done everything wrong and yet got it incredibly right. An amazing guy.

Okay. So, you just hinted at the fact that you went ahead with this deal. You got the discount from CreateSpace and Amazon and you uploaded everything, and then …

I guess like lots of people in those early days, upload it, fold your arms, wait for the money to come in. It didn’t quite happen.

Jeff Wheeler: It didn’t happen. But I mean, I got reviews, and that was good. There were the family and the friends. But the sales were very small, and … Like everyone else, how do you find your way in this market?

For about a year, just picking up a couple readers here and there. It was definitely not paying for itself at that point.

I hit probably one of my lowest points in December, almost a year after it had been out in the market. I got an email from a fan in Australia, who said, “I love this Muirwood series, but there’s so many typos in it. Would you mind if I just sent you these typos so that you could fix it, so that other readers in the future maybe won’t stumble over these like I did?”

And I said, “Oh, that’s so gracious of you. Thank you. Send it.” And I got it, and it was like 90 in each book. Between 90 and 100 in each book. And I spent my Christmas break from Intel … I had vacation at the end of the year, and I spent my whole Christmas break fixing those things.

That’s when the self-doubt just pounded on my head. Like, why are you doing this? You’ve had this out … And don’t we all have that sometimes? I call it the impostor syndrome. Like, who are you to think that people could like it?

And every book on successful people that I’d ever read said that you hit those walls where you’re just like, “I just want to quit. I want to quit.” And it’s just past that wall that success comes. I’d heard that story enough times that I’m like, “Wow. This is my wall.” It’s like, what am I doing?

I said, “No. I’m going to put the best product out there that I can. I’m going to write the best stories that I can.” I even started writing my next series. Like, I’m just going to try. I’m going to keep writing, because I have to tell stories. That just part of who I am.

It was literally one month later that KDP kind of came into existence, and they sent out an email saying, “Hey, if you make your book exclusive … ” You know how it works. “If you make your book exclusive on our platform, we’ll let you give it away for free for so many days. Do you want to give it a try?”

I remember sitting in my office at Intel when that happened, and I said, “What do I have to lose?” So I did. I just said, “I’m going to give away the first book for two days,” or something. And because I had a trilogy out, and because it was so new and there weren’t a lot of other fish in the sea at that point, over 10,000 people downloaded that book during that time. Reviews started showing up. I could just tell, things were changing. I said, “What is going on?”

I went back to my KDP dashboard, and I still remember I took a screenshot of it that day, because it floored me so much. I could hardly speak. I saw the number, 10,000 this, and I couldn’t speak. I ran to the kitchen and I grabbed my wife because I still couldn’t speak. I couldn’t articulate the numbers I had seen. It’s like, is this a typo? I just gestured, like, come, come. She looked at it and she was like, “Oh my goodness. What is this?”

So those 10,000 sales made people want to go look at number two and number three, because the book was there. And, as you know, binge reading is a thing, and readers love not having to wait for the next book in the series to come out.

They started gobbling up book two and three, and I said, “Wow. If this works, let me give all three of them away during the next cycle.” I did, and I think I gave away over 100,000 copies of those books. Then the reviews were just pouring in, and then the sales started coming in, which paid for everything. It’s like, okay, now I’m profitable at least. The books are starting to make money.

It was at that time that I came on the radar screen of Amazon Publishing, which had just a few months before created their fantasy and science fiction imprint called 47North. So the rise of sales, the rise of reviews attracted their attention.

They had just staffed this group, and I was one of the very first authors that they reached out to. They said, “Hey, you’ve got this Muirwood series. We’re interested in that, but are you writing anything else?” And I said, “Yes. I’ve got another trilogy underway,” and that’s when I signed the deal.

I think they thought that once they republished Muirwood, that because I’d given away so many copies, that basically there was no legs left in it. But that was absolutely not the case.

Once they repackaged it and had audio and everything else together, it took off even faster than the second series that came out. It was just a breakaway success for them, and really helped prove that there was a market for Amazon Publishing to do fantasy.

James Blatch: That deal you did with them … Did you hesitate about that? Just because of the royalty, the sort of … I mean, I guess, was it the same in those days?

You would have been on 70% from simply self-publishing, and then the deal with them would have been different?

Jeff Wheeler: I can’t talk about the deal, just because it’s part of my contractual terms, but I didn’t suffer with that deal at all.

James Blatch: Oh, okay.

Jeff Wheeler: It was a tremendously rewarding deal. My books aren’t going to be in traditional bookstores, right? I think a lot of authors go, “Well, I can’t go to Powell’s,” or, “I can’t go to Barnes & Noble. I can’t go, and I’m not going to find my book on the shelf.” And you can. That does happen.

But I also realized that Amazon is an enormously big bookstore, and having a front row seat at that bookstore has got to be worth something too. So there were some pros and some cons, because I wanted a hardcover edition.

There’s things that I wanted that I didn’t get, but oh, I don’t regret it for a second because of their ability to reach individual readers and to find statistically which readers are most likely to be interested in my books. Like, “Oh, you like C.S. Lewis and Terry Brooks. Well, you might like Jeff too.” And it turned out to be just tremendously successful.

James Blatch: I guess when you’re considering a deal you can look at a traditional house and the distribution lines they have that we can’t access into the shops, and whether that’s important to you at the cost of what they offer you back. But with Amazon … Well, they have pretty good distribution lines, and they control the algorithms.

Although Mark pointed out to me the other day it’s quite separate within Amazon, the imprints. They’re just as puzzled about how the algorithm works as we are on the outside. But anyway, they’re clearly on the inside of Amazon, which I guess is helpful and something to consider when you’re looking at a deal.

So where are you now, Jeff? You did a six-book deal with Amazon, 47North, initially with that series?

Jeff Wheeler: I did. And I know a lot of other authors … Once they had that deal, they knew they could go to traditional publishers and find options there. I chose to stay, and I have not regretted that decision because I’ve been one of their top authors since then.

They haven’t wanted everything that I’ve done. So for some of my series, like for my Kingfountain series, I wanted to do some standalone novels just because I thought my readers would like it, and they weren’t interested in doing those standalone. So I continue to self publish those.

And I have had some of my audiobooks picked up by other companies, like Podium have come and offered me to do audiobooks for some of the books that I’ve self published.

I’m very much a hybrid, where I do some of my own things where I can keep the higher royalty percentages and take advantage of the Amazon algorithms, because as somebody finishes the series it will recommend to them one of the ones that I’ve self published. I think it works out pretty well for that.

I’ve had agents reach out to me now, but I still don’t have an agent, because I think that what I have right now is working very well for the career that I want. I don’t like going on book tours. I don’t need to do things like that. I really like going to the few comic cons that I go to and the few events that I speak at.

I like the balance that this gives me. The time I get to spend with my family is very different than a lot of other top-name authors that have to be on the road a lot during the year. I don’t have to do that, and I get to write three books a year, and it works out really well.

James Blatch: Those agents should have snapped you up when they had their chance a few years ago.

Jeff Wheeler: I’ve had some reach out and ask if I had talked to them. I looked at my log, and it’s like, “I did reach out to you,” and they don’t feel good about it now. But it’s still good to have connections within agents, and that’s still how most books get into Amazon Publishing today, is through the agented means.

Like you said, the “when” this happened in my career couldn’t have been better. It didn’t feel very good waiting for the technology to catch up, but I definitely appreciated being on the front lines when KDP really took off.

James Blatch: You were there. You were there at the coalface. Well, I think that’s really interesting, and I think probably it’s symptomatic of a change that’s coming about.

I think the very good writers with very good commercial books are increasingly going to see the financial advantage of self-publishing. So whilst there’ll always be people writing books that aren’t going to make a huge amount of money, and then literary agents will quite rightly say, “Well, we’re not going to take you on,” they don’t realize the competition that self-publishing is now posing them.

They’re still lecturing authors about, “How to write your correct query letter, and you should sent 80 of these out.” And I don’t think they realize the game is changing. That they should be chasing writers now, people like you, slipping through their fingers at an early stage.

If you were to do a deal now, you’ll do what Bella Andre did, which is you’ll turn your laptop around, show your spreadsheet, and say, “Well, look. This is what I’m making a month, so what can you offer me?” And that’s a very different conversation from a new author, unpublished, who will take anything that’s thrown at them and sign a contract. But that’s my hobby horse. I’ll get off it now.

I’m not going to delve into the figures, and like you say, confidentialities, et cetera. But in terms of your career, your commercial success as a writer, how does that compare to what you were earning, for instance, at Intel and so on?

Have you replaced that income and gone a lot more than that?

Jeff Wheeler: Definitely. I went higher than what I was making while I was at Intel. That was part of the decision making, that I saw … When those numbers were matching and then exceeding, I said, “I don’t need to stay.”

Now, as any other author will tell you, there’s self-employment tax and there’s all these additional expenses that you have to do to run your own business. Insurance is really expensive. So those benefits that you have with a company … You’ve got to make sure that … Are you making enough money to be able to recreate those things?

But I’ve definitely been very blessed to be able to write at the cadence that I do and have a publisher that can find those people all over the world.

Now, with the international rights and things coming into play too, it’s definitely more than made up for it and is worth the headache. But there’s definitely a lot of headache with the taxes and those things that have to be taken into consideration.

James Blatch: Sure. Well, congratulations. That’s a great success story.

To bring us bang up to date, I think you’ve got 20-plus books under your belt now.

Jeff Wheeler: I do. My latest book came out three weeks ago, and it’s the first book in that series that hit the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. My Kingfountain series has been my bestselling series, and so with the newer one I didn’t have as many readers, but that’s quickly changing. By book four, it’s now risen to those same levels that I saw with Kingfountain, so …

Every writer wonders, is the best book I wrote the one that I wrote five books or 10 books ago? I often wondered, is Muirwood going to be the best series that I write? And I have found that if you keep trying and keep honing your craft and keep looking for that secret sauce, diving into other books and seeing what’s working, that you can create something that is still relevant and makes readers very passionate about it. So I don’t think my best work’s behind me. I think it’s still ahead of me.

I love what I do every day. I tell people that the worst day being an author is still better than the best day I had while I was at Intel, and so I don’t regret for a moment making the switch.

James Blatch: I can see that, Jeff. And do you know what? There’s an infectious enthusiasm. This is genuinely quite uplifting, talking to you about writing, so it’s brilliant to have you on.

Just to bring things to a conclusion, then … And a great story, and like I say, inspiring. Also, I love the way that you’ve got this spider’s web of different deals and stuff, and why not? Why would you not think, what’s the right thing for this particular product, and so on?

So, advice, then, for authors starting out today, faced with quite a competitive self published environment and published environment.

Is there anything you would say to somebody perhaps in my position, that’s sort of just ahead, hopefully, of publishing their first book?

Jeff Wheeler: That’s a wonderful question, and it’s the question we all want answered. I spent many times trawling authors’ websites to learn about their stories. I got to spend a day with Terry Brooks in Northern California several years ago, before this all happened, and got to hear his advice as he was teaching to all of us budding authors and things. So I have kind of two angles that I take the advice.

The first, traditional advice, which I got from Terry Brooks … And he attributes this quote to Stephen King, although I haven’t found it in any of Stephen’s writing, but I don’t want to claim it for myself. But after you’ve written your first million words, then you’re ready to start the process.

That can sound so daunting, yet after I heard that from Terry I went back and I pulled out some of those manuscripts from high school, those printed out manuscripts on a dot matrix printer that … It sounded like nails on a chalkboard as it was printing. This is back during the ’80s. I pulled that out and I just started … Okay, how many words per page do I have on these? I just averaged those, and then the things I wrote during college. I put that all together, and it was like 980,000 words. And the very next thing I wrote … Because after I added that up, the very next thing I wrote was The Wretched of Muirwood.

James Blatch: Wow.

Jeff Wheeler: Which is the book that made all this happen. So there is some wisdom. If you look at Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he talks, obviously, about the 10,000 hour principle. I think for authors, we need … Maybe it’s not 10,000 hours, but it’s a million words. We need that practice. And it’s not just writing, but it’s reading too. It’s the analyzing of what works and what doesn’t work.

So that’s the practical side that I like to give, that you really do need to practice, that you don’t become good at anything …

My son’s a very gifted pianist, and we have to tell him to stop playing sometimes, because he wants to practice all the time. And he’s so much better than me now. So, that practice is crucial. There are stories of an author whose first book hits that international success. It’s just so rare. I think for 99% of the rest of us that practice is important.

The other part, the other practical advice that I like to give, is the things that I wish I had known when I started. Things like having a dev editor, things like having good proofreaders, finding excellent cover artists. All those tools that all the publishing houses use are available to you and to me, and that if you like … Don’t we all look at the bestsellers on Amazon in your genre?

And you can go find out who did that cover art. It’s printed in the book. You can go find who these people are. Some of my top-selling books, the Kingfountain series … Amazon Publishing hired one of the top cover artists for that, and they did an amazing job, because that is super important.

Now, you can have a great cover and horrible content. So that’s why we need dev editors and we need copy editors. We need proofreaders. I have a team. I have a mastermind of people that read and help me with my books. It’s not all just coming from Jeff’s brain.

But the people like my sister and my daughter and my editor, and all this team of first readers that I have that get the first peek at what I do … That’s so important, to have a team together, to not feel like you’re the only person in that box. So get that team together.

Even if you haven’t had success yet, pull together that team who are passionate about that story that you want to tell. I think that all of that is only going to make it more palatable for editors and agents down the road to take a look at it.

James Blatch: Great. The not-so-secret sauce of success is hard work and application.

Jeff Wheeler: Yes.

James Blatch: Who knew?

Jeff Wheeler: Exactly.

James Blatch: Jeff, it’s been really wonderful talking to you. Honestly, I do feel you’re infectious
with your enthusiasm, and your approach is spot on. I can see why your overnight success has happened, over a period of 20 years, which is always the case with overnight successes.

Jeff Wheeler: Yes.

James Blatch: But well done. We bathe in the reflected glory of where you are now, and there’s a legacy … The great thing about writing these books is the legacy for your family in the future as well. And many more books to come.

Jeff Wheeler: Thank you so much.

James Blatch: I’m not trying to age you prematurely, so …

Jeff Wheeler: No. People say, “How many more books are you going to write?” I have still not run out of ideas. New ideas inspire me all the time. I got invited to China last year. My Chinese publisher, and with the government, does an international writing festival, and they said, “Come on out,” and I got to spend a month in Beijing and Shanghai.

James Blatch: Wow.

Jeff Wheeler: And if that was not inspiring … That was inspiring. So, just the people you meet every day … You never know when they might be a character in a book, so … Thanks for having me on. It was great to be here.

James Blatch: That’s incredible. Thanks, Jeff.

There you go. Jeff Wheeler, there in the early days. But we should reiterate what I said in last week’s episode, having just spoken to Lindsay Buroker, who launched a brand-new pen name a couple of years ago and was a bit worried by all the people saying, “You can’t do it anymore. It’s much, much more difficult to launch into this environment. It’s much more competitive.”

She did it and made money, and hopefully I’m going to be doing that soon. People listening to this should understand that this is a growing market, voracious market of readers, which is growing at the same time as, yes, more writers are coming on as well.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, of course it’s possible. People who say it isn’t are talking out of their backsides. It’s never been easier.

When you started, we didn’t have half the tools that we’ve got now, even from things like Vellum on the convenience side to the advertising platforms we can take advantage of. So no, there’s no question that … As someone may have said on a podcast, there’s never been a better time to be a writer. So no, I’m not buying that for a moment.

James Blatch: Excellent. Okay, look, this is going out on the 1st of November. We should say that we are going to record a live episode of this podcast in Las Vegas. So even if you’re not going to 20Books, actually, you could probably come along, I think. Yeah. I’m sure you could come along to Sam’s Town Gambling Hall and Casino Resort, or something, it’s called. But I’m sure if you’re in Vegas, you know what Sam’s Town is, just north of the Strip.

We’re going to be doing that on Wednesday the 13th of November at around six o’clock, but if you get there a little bit early you’ll get a drink, which is always good, and you’ll watch us having a bit of fun, making a live episode of the podcast. So if you can come along to say hello, we’d love to see you there.

We could be overwhelmed. I need to talk to Sam’s Town and make sure there’s a limit behind the bar. I don’t want to-

Mark Dawson: I’ll be overwhelmed by our attendees. I’ll be overwhelmed in any event, but yes, we could also be overwhelmed in terms of the number of people who come.

James Blatch: We’ll probably go for four figures behind the bar, so we’ll be up for a few drinks.

Mark Dawson: NINC holds the record, so I think there’s a fairly good chance we’ll beat that.

James Blatch: Yeah. That was a busy night. Only getting busier. Great. Well, look, thank you very much indeed, Mark. The Bearded Wonder. Do you remember who the Bearded Wonder was?

Mark Dawson: Kenny Everett.

James Blatch: No. He was on Test Match Special. Bearders.

Mark Dawson: Oh.

James Blatch: He was the statistician, and Johnston always called him the Bearded Wonder.

Mark Dawson: Right. You may be the only person in the world who knows that.

James Blatch: I’m not. I reckon Steve Moore knows that, because he’s a bit of a cricket guy as well.

Episode 199 next week. Then it’s the big 2-0-0 after that. What are we going to do for the 2-0-0?

Mark Dawson: I don’t know. We’ll have to think about that. I think we may have a two-way, so to speak. So yes, no guest, perhaps, that week. We might do something just me and you.

James Blatch: Well, let’s have a little think about the highlights, our personal highlights, from the podcast. We look back at the interviews, and then we can talk about-

Mark Dawson: Cor. That’s going to take a while. How long have I got?

James Blatch: Dig out a highlight. Let’s talk about what we’ve learned from the podcast. There you go.

Mark Dawson: I haven’t learned anything. What have you learned?

James Blatch: You must have learned some things from some people.

Mark Dawson: I have. I have.

James Blatch: You said you learned something from Lucy Score.

Mark Dawson: I did, but that wasn’t on the podcast. That was at a high-level author retreat. But no, I’ve learned lots. I’ve learned lots of things.

James Blatch: By the way, you have to wish me luck, because in a drunken moment in Florida, I thought it’d be a good idea-

Mark Dawson: Oh dear.

James Blatch: To interview Lucy Score and three other female billionaire-

Mark Dawson: Oh. My God.

James Blatch: Collaborators. Female billionaire romance is kind of a niche I think they’ve invented. Lucy’s just launched her first book. She launched it, actually, whilst we were in … So I’ve got all four of them on at the same time on a colossal Zoom feed-

Mark Dawson: Oh my God.

James Blatch: And I’m probably going to be eaten alive.

Mark Dawson: If you’re lucky.

James Blatch: If I’m lucky. So if I’m still here next week, that’ll be a bonus. So I’ve got them to come soon, and that will be a good episode. The first time we’ve had a five-way.

Mark Dawson: God. Sorry, folks. I apologize-

James Blatch: Right.

Mark Dawson: For my erstwhile broadcast colleague.

James Blatch: Look, we’ll see you in Las Vegas. If you can make it, that will be great. Otherwise, we’ll see you back here next Friday for another episode of the Self-Publishing Show.

Don’t forget, you can sponsor us or chip in and help the podcast and be rewarded in return if you go to patreon.com/selfpublishingshow. Until next week, I think it’s going to be a goodbye from him …

Mark Dawson: And a goodbye from me.

James Blatch: Goodbye.

Mark Dawson: Goodbye.

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