SPS-202: The Power Couple: How to Get Rich Writing Romance – with Lucy Score & Tim Hoot

For those easily offended, please note there are some mild sex references in this episode!

Lucy Score and Tim Hoot are a wife and husband writing and publishing team. They talk to James about taking control of Lucy’s writing career by beginning to publish her books themselves, some of the mistakes they made along the way, and why being adaptable to change is the only constant for writers.

Show Notes

  • A quick recap of the 20Booksto50K event in Las Vegas
  • Including a couple of NSFW discoveries in hotel rooms
  • (If you’ve never heard Mark laugh hysterically, you’re in for a treat)
  • The importance of being objective about our books, covers and marketing materials
  • Having a five-year plan for writing success
  • Getting to the top of the Kindle charts
  • Learning how to build a reader community
  • On working with a spouse
  • How marketing levels off the peaks and valleys of sales
  • The importance of testing ads to see what’s working

Resources mentioned in this episode:

COURSE: Ads for Authors is now open for a limited time.

WAITING LIST: If you weren’t able to get a ticket for the SPF Live event in London in March 2020, you can put yourself on the waiting list for tickets that might come available here.

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page


Narrator: On this edition of The Self-Publishing Show … “Being an author is about finding the aspects of the career that would fit you best. And if you have a really convenient situation like I have, take advantage of it. Shovel some of those responsibilities off to a team member, and focus on what you need to focus on.”

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 best-seller 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 Blach: Hello, and welcome. It’s the Self-Publishing Show, with me, James Blatch.

Mark Dawson: And me, Elvis Presley.

James Blach: Hello, Elvis. Elvis has left the building, has left Vegas.

Mark Dawson: Elvis has left Vegas. Yes, he has.

James Blach: Did we ever work out where he played? Was it … did you say?

Mark Dawson: I think I said it was The Sands, didn’t I?

James Blach: The Sands, which no longer exists.

Mark Dawson: No. It’s probably where we stayed. Actually, we stayed in the Wynn, but that was the Desert Inn, I found out. The Desert Inn was blown up, and the Wynn replaced it. I can’t remember what, one of The Sands probably would have been the Bellagio, or something similar like that. They blow them up fairly frequently.

James Blach: It’s the beginning of Casino, isn’t it? That film.

Mark Dawson: Yeah.

James Blach: You see them all blowing up. And that was the end of the mob era. It’s now charlatans who run it.

Mark Dawson: The charlatans. Really?

James Blach: Actually, who’s some … The Killers, don’t they live in Vegas?

Mark Dawson: Well, Brandon Flowers … is it Brandon Flowers? Yeah, Vegas band, yeah.

James Blach: We’ll talk about a couple of things before we have today’s fantastic interview with the bright, bubbly, and very talented Lucy Score. And the serious and quieter Tim Score. Is he Tim Score? I said that, but I think Lucy Score’s probably a pen name, too. Anyway, the husband. And I probably do know his name. I’ll look it up. But Tim and Lucy are a fantastic power couple in the world of in die publishing.

I’m a huge fan of both of them for what they’re doing. Lucy’s a fantastic romance writer. She’s going to make two appearances in the next few weeks on this show. So we’ve got a fantastic interview to go along with this one, which is her project with three other romance writers, writing a billionaire female sequence, which we mentioned last week. So Lucy and Tim today in a moment.

Let’s talk about Vegas, baby. It’s a weird place, isn’t it?

Mark Dawson: It’s quite weird, yes. I didn’t see too much. Most of the time was spent in Sam’s Town, which is also a weird place for lots of different reasons. But yeah, I went over the road at one point, to Walmart, which was an interesting experience.

James Blach: You get searched on the way in, as well as on the way out.

Mark Dawson: They didn’t search me, which, that’s all you need to know about how we’re both viewed by law enforcement.

James Blach: We went to buy a rucksack, me and John. Because you always end up with more stuff going home, than you come out with. And we had to wait a long time for them to unlock the rucksacks off the … She handed us a bag, and said, “Do you want to use this?” For our shopping, and it was about the same as the rucksacks that were locked up on the shelf.

But I didn’t quite say everything is locked up in that store. Everything is locked up. Apart from the ammo. There was a whole stack … There was some ammo behind glass, but there was a whole stack of shelf, what looked like ammo. And I picked it up. It was really heavy. And I looked inside and it was a load of shells, rounds. I was like, “How come these are not locked up, but the rucksacks are?”

So, we should say why we were in Vegas. We were there for a conference called 20Books Vegas, which is part of the 20Booksto50K movement. It is a movement started by Michael Anderle a few years ago. It’s a huge Facebook group. There’s a massive crossover, I think, between people in our Facebook group, in 20Books. And they’ve had several conferences around the world, and this was the biggest yet, in Vegas. I think there were over a thousand. Was it 1100? Something like that … attendees?

Mark Dawson: Ball park, yeah.

James Blach: Yeah, in that ball park. And each one of them was an indie author, either making money or aspiring to make money, either quit their jobs or aspiring to quit their jobs. And there were sessions on the main stage. The keynote speaker was none other …

Mark Dawson: That were me.

James Blach: Than Mark Dawson, and lots of side events, as well, as I say, with more detail to talk about craft, talk about marketing. And the great thing is that you can see all of this. You can watch your keynote speech, which, I have to say, Mark … in the time I’ve known you, was the best presentation you’ve ever given.

Mark Dawson: Thank you very much. Yes, it felt like the best one, as well.

I was a little bit nervous beforehand, but I had actually practiced this one a couple of times, because I wanted to make sure that it was nice and polished. And also, that it fit within an hour, which was something of a challenge beforehand. So I did know roughly what I was doing, and I had been gifted some fantastic material by an email I received a couple of weeks earlier that I could have … I split the presentation around. And I had some help from David Courtney, which was very good. And also from a T-Rex, which was unexpected.

James Blach: Yes. I was standing backstage, taking some pictures. And a T-Rex just appeared next to me. I could hear a little fan whirring, to keep it blown up, and cool. I was quite pleased, because I happened to know the person inside has a heart condition.

Mark Dawson: Yes. He does. That was funny. I’ve never had to deal with that before.

James Blach: It was very funny.

Mark Dawson: It was fun. I would probably give that same speech with a couple of updates, for the Our Life show in March. So if people don’t want to see that, don’t won’t have their joy spoiled, don’t watch the YouTube channel. But if you’re not coming, and you want to see me interrupted by a dinosaur, and swearing on stage, which was fun.

My dad emailed me and said that it was a very funny, “It was very funny, Mark. But it would have been more funny if you hadn’t swore so much.”

And I was like, “I didn’t swear that much.” I only swore like twice, and one of those exclamations was after seeing a T-Rex on the side of the stage. I think that was perfectly justifiable.

James Blach: Yes.

Mark Dawson: It was fun, though. I enjoyed it, and had some lovely comments from people afterwards. And people wanting selfies, which is always absolutely crazy.

James Blach: Every time someone does a selfie with me, I try to do one, as well, so I’ve captured it. And I actually post them into the group, posting pictures from the trip into our Facebook group shortly. Before this episode ges out, for sure. But it was, I think, probably the highlight for us is the same highlight it was for every individual, was Craig Martelle, the organizer.

Brilliant organizer of the conference, said at the end that the real value is in the networking, to give it want of a better phrase, just standing around meeting people who are doing the same as you. Having a laugh with them, learning from them, and getting some nice comments from people in my case. Because people kind of know what I’m doing before I’ve even spoken to them. But also, being able to encourage other people.

And quite a lot of Brits there. So a lot of people made the trip, in the same way that a lot of Americans are making the trip to our conference in March. A lot of Brits turned up, which was great.

Mark Dawson: Yes. And what else do we have? We had a nice trip in a stretch limo to a restaurant on the Tuesday night, where we had some nice steak with Mr. Anderle and some other people. And I had a burst of Tourette’s in the back of the car.

James Blach: You did. You C-Bombed. Thank goodness your dad wasn’t …

Mark Dawson: I know. Goodness me. I was sitting next to Paul. And I may have dropped the C-Bomb.

James Blach: I think you called me the C-Bomb.

Mark Dawson: I did. Yeah, I did. I don’t know why. It was very unfair and undeserved. But that was entertaining. And then we had our drinks on the Wednesday night, where we broke our record for a bar bill, didn’t we? Did we break our record-

James Blach: Yes. Well, it’s weird. Because I’m fairly certain … I might have been quite drunk. Actually, I have the invoice that says. So I might have been quite drunk. I’m fairly certain we spent $3000.

Mark Dawson: That’s what you told me.

James Blach: But Ricardo was there. I signed it several times.

Mark Dawson: Several times.

James Blach: Ricardo was there. I signed several of these. But I can only find two of them. And actually, I’ve looked at our credit card. And apparently, the room’s about $2000.

Either Sam’s Town has made a mistake, which hopefully, they don’t watch this video. But nonetheless, we were happy to let it flow. And let’s say Reedsy,, the place to go and find editorial cover design services as well as all the rest of it … came in halves with us, are going to be partners of ours , I think, as well, in March. Which is great. And it’s wonderful to be blessed by Spanish Jesus.

Mark Dawson: I’ve seen some wonderful photographs. Spanish Jesus and Dan Wood, from Draft2Digital went to the Grand Canyon after the conference. And they have some pictures of … he really has embraced the Spanish Jesus.

James Blach: He has. Well, I’ll tell you what. I’m going to send John, our editor, pictures of Spanish Jesus to put in, and also the pictures from the limo, and some selfies from the event. So he can litter this episode.

Mark Dawson: Litter is the appropriate choice of word, I think.

James Blach: How dare you out Spanish Jesus. Jesus, Spanish Jesus.

Mark Dawson: Yes, yes.

James Blach: But yes. I think what I was going to say about the conference is that … if I could get back to a good point, hopefully, about the conference, is that … You go to conferences to learn, and do a little bit of networking. But there’s something else going on with 20Books on that scale, and with us in March, which is a very … Why are you laughing at me? I’m trying to make a point.

Mark Dawson: Sorry.

James Blach: A very public … What? A very public display of a movement that’s largely happening in the dark. Can I help you? What have I said?

Mark Dawson: Sorry. I need to turn off my camera. Oh dear, sorry. So, when we went to the Wynn-

James Blach: Oh, don’t talk about that. Is that what you’re laughing at? Don’t talk about that. You want that picture to go up there? I can tell you now.

Mark Dawson: We have to. We have to mention that. Sorry.

James Blach: We have to mention it.

Mark Dawson: Let me … I’ll-

James Blach: Can I finish my point? Then we’ll mention that smut.

Mark Dawson: Yes.

James Blach: Okay. My point is these conferences are a visible sign of a movement that’s happening individually in bedrooms and kitchens and front rooms across the world. And actually, it’s happening without people knowing … certainly without the industry really being aware and awake, and it was very interesting, Publisher Weekly were there, one of the long-running trade mags.

And really important, I think, that they understand what is happening to publishing at the moment. Okay. So I’ve got that out of the way.

We should say that when we went to the Wynn, which is a luxurious, very … one night, our last night. And we had it primarily because the rooms were like 300 quid instead of 1000, for some reason.

Mark Dawson: Yes. $190 when I looked. We paid a bit more than that. But yes, we got a very good deal. Then found out that two of us were upgraded to the best suites. That would mean me and John. Young Tom was upgraded to like the middle suite. And poor James wasn’t upgraded at all.

James Blach: I was in a suite, but I’m the one who chooses hotels and books. I should understand that.

Mark Dawson: It was very unfortunate. But the funny thing was, as we walked in … These were very well-equipped hotel rooms. And one of the things that James was able to take from the … basically, there’s a sign as you go in, saying if you take anything from the mini-bar or from the collection of goodies for more than 30 seconds, you’re billed. James picked up … What was it called?

James Blach: It’s called Intimacy Kits. It was a masturbation kit. That’s what it was. It was a masturbation kit for men. And I’ll flash up an image of that, as well. Which I’ll send to John, and say, “It contained lubricant.” Something called an intimacy sleeve, or something … essential sleeve? It’ll appear on the box, on the screen now.

I should say, so Tom was in the room at the time, and we were laughing at this, and took a picture of it. We then put it back. And it was only later that I saw that 30 second sign, which I know to this moment, you think I did it deliberately. But I can tell you, it’s still thee in the tray, and annoyingly, because I saw my invoice today … I paid for it. I was billed. And it wasn’t cheap. It was like $39.

Mark Dawson: How did you explain that to Mrs. Blatch?

James Blach: They very kindly put on the Miscellaneous Items. In the words of Alan Partridge, it’s disconcertingly vague.

Mark Dawson: That was a real highlight.

James Blach: Well, this is Vegas. I do apologize to people with a sensitive disposition, but this is Vegas, baby. And we had drinks with the wonderful Terry Tatchell and Lisa Zumpano from Vancouver, who came to the Wynn, and shared a couple of cocktails with us. And they told us in their hotel rooms, at the Venetian, were small devices-

Mark Dawson: Okay, that’s enough. That’s enough.

James Blach: Yeah. Sort of devices for women.

Mark Dawson: Oh my goodness.

James Blach: Which made me realize … At check-in, they’ve worked out. Some of these rooms … You’re put in a room that’s equipped for a man. It’s a sad thing though, isn’t it? A masturbation kit.

Mark Dawson: It’s quite sad. It does remind me very much of the Alan Partridge episode where he’s a bit bored in the travel tavern, and has to ring reception and … what does he say, James?

James Blach: He says, “Susan, can you make pornography come on my TV, please?” And then he goes, “Oh, thank you.” Yes.

Mark Dawson: Oh, dear. So, this completely random diversion.

James Blach: I think we were tired at this stage at the end of the week, and we did become a little hysterical.

Mark Dawson: Yes. I don’t know what my excuse is now.

Then of course, then we had some fun after that with on the tray of items, including the male intimacy kit, were things like jars of jelly beans and crisps and things, all of which had the same 30-second time limit. I may have had some fun at John’s expense by taking them off-

James Blach: Throwing them on the floor and then leaving the room. And he had to scrabble around to get them back on there within 30 seconds. A bit of a game, wasn’t it?

Mark Dawson: It was.

James Blach: There wass probably $1000 on that tray.

Mark Dawson: It was a very expensive trick at our expense, basically. Oh my goodness. So yeah. Sorry, everyone, for completely random diversion there.

James Blach: We’ll have to put a content warning up on the this episode.

Mark Dawson: Oh, goodness. We will offend all kinds of people with our shenanigans.

James Blach: But we had our last night. Of course, John and I arrived even earlier than you. We arrived there days earlier than you. We went to interview I was going to say Samuel L. Jackson in Phoenix. No. Lee Jackson in Phoenix, who was brilliant.

Who’s somebody who started writing … he’s now, I think he’s now 68, 69. And he started writing about four years ago. He calls himself The Colonel Saunders of publishing. And he’s making money. He wants to make more, which is why we spent half the time doing a quick interview, and the other half of the time looking at his cover blurb.

He’s trying to work out why he’s gone from a couple of thousand a month to a thousand a month in income, and he wants to up that. But he’s right in the center of everything now, doing brilliantly, writing great stories. And this is a guy who worked in industry in a job he hated, peddling … I think he’s been peddling health insurance or … I can’t remember exactly what it was. Some service for most of his life.

Mark Dawson: Peddling.

James Blach: Yeah, well, you know.

Mark Dawson: Selling.

James Blach: It was a legitimate … but that’s what he was doing, and he hated it, And now, suddenly, in his 60s, he’s found himself making money doing something he absolutely loves writing these thrillers.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, amazing.

James Blach: So that was Samuel. Sarah LaFontaine we met in Tucson, Arizona, where Jojo comes from. And she’s also doing well, really well, actually. Took us to a nice Mexican restaurant, and we interviewed her. And then we spoke to somebody who’s just starting out. He looks like Jessie from Breaking Bad, and lives in Yuma. Which is a new town for me, never been to before. Just on the border of Arizona and California. That’s somebody who’s currently a school teacher, actually about to relocate to Phoenix. But is starting to go places with his books.

And again, half the time, John and I find ourselves doing consulting work. We need to bring you, actually, to do the consultancy. They say, “What’s wrong with this cover? What’s wrong with this blurb?” But that’s what this whole week was about. It was about these conversations.

And something else I’ll say, I think, also. I’ve been looking at the groups this morning, answering a few queries here and there on Facebook. And you do see again how important your attitude is. So, the three people we interviewed there were people receptive to making changes. Who understood that the book was a product they had to be objective about, and not treat emotionally.

And yet, I do see on our Facebook groups, and in the 20Books groups, quite often people doing it wrong, in that sense. And ending up making decisions not optimal to selling books, and then sometimes that becomes a circle of bitterness. “Why is everyone else successful, and I’m not?”

People aren’t prepared to realize that your cover might be exactly what you think it should be for your book, but it’s not a cover that is going to sell the book.

At 20Books, I think the people who made the effort to go to that conference were able to start soaking up that culture, that business culture you need to apply to your writing, which is very, very valuable.

Mark Dawson: Absolutely. Yes, I completely agree. And I know which cover you’re talking about, and I completely agree. Don’t have any further comments at the end.

James Blach: No. Yeah. To be fair, I think the person is taking that onboard. I actually think she’s doing pretty good, but she’s had some pretty brutal comments on that. But that’s part and parcel of it, I’m afraid, when you’re in business. Not everyone’s going to sugarcoat it. Some of us will; some people won’t.

Mark Dawson: Christian Peterson didn’t sugarcoat it.

James Blach: No, he didn’t. He didn’t. You’re giving his name, are you? You’ve never done that.

Mark Dawson: That’s true. I think it’s kind out now. There were 1000 people in Vegas know his name.

James Blach: Yes. His book is bizarre, in more ways than one.

Mark Dawson: Yes.

James Blach: Right. One more thing before we get to the interview, which is to say that your profile premium … what’s it called?

Mark Dawson: Course?

James Blach: Trademark course, Mark Dawson’s Advertising for Authors, is open and available for business. So you can go to and you can read all about it, as they say on the newspaper stands in the UK.

This is the course that’s primarily built around Amazon ads and Facebook ads, but includes lots of other stuff, as well, including how to write copy. There’s even some design stuff in there. But it’s for people … Should we say. I would normally say you should have a book out. Ideally, probably two or three books out at this stage.

Mark Dawson: Oh, I think you can start with one. We’ve had people that start with none. But you can’t learn this too early, really.

James Blach: No. I’m going to be advertising.

Mark Dawson: You are. Yeah.

James Blach: I can tell you now. So yeah, one book. It depends how serious you are about your career. It’s $749 dollars, so it’s the most expensive course we do, but it’s the most comprehensive and the most intensive, from our point of view, keeping you all up to date. It’s also available on a payment plan, we should say.

Mark Dawson: It is.

James Blach: So, I think you’re paying over 12 months, to make that a bit easier for you. It’s only open for a couple of weeks. But it’s an opportunity for you to have a look. And there’s also a refund period of 30 days, all very user-friendly. Good. Okay, look. I think it’s time to get on to our interview.

Because here’s somebody who does not need instruction on how to treat the business side as a business, because her husband does a lot of it. And that is actually a really good, in its own way, a good culture to have because it’s a separate person who can not feel so emotionally tied to the book. They’ll treat it as a product, and think, “How are we going to turn this into something that’s going to sell?” So, this is Lucy and Tim Score. They live in Pennsylvania, actually near Harrisburg.

I’m trying to learn all the state capitals, and Harrisburg is a state capital of Pennsylvania. And she writes romance, she’s brilliant. We’ve bumped into Lucy and Tim a few times, particularly at NINC. She goes to NINC every year.

I’m a huge fan, as I say. And we talked to her about her writing, and about how they market, how she’s being so successful, and making so much money, which is great. So, lets hear from Lucy and Tim.

Okay. We are in Pennsylvania with Lucy and Tim. We’re going to talk about you, Lucy. Your amazing writing career. We’re going to talk to Tim a bit about supporting that with the marketing effort. And yeah, we love to hear about couples working together, because it’s … Well frankly, it’s a massive advantage, isn’t it? You basically get a whole other full-time person in the business.

But to make it work, I think probably takes a few tips and tricks here and there. So I’ll try and extract that from you. Because I think making it work, and not killing each other is a really important part of-

Tim: We kind of like each other.

James Blach: You kind of like each other? That’s a good start. Okay, look. I’m going to start with you, Lucy, and we’ll talk about who you are, your career to date. If you can do that in the next 25 minutes, and I’ll go make a cup of tea.

Lucy: Okay. You already have your mug.

James Blach: Yeah. You have to have a mug. It’s too rude to show on camera, unfortunately.

Lucy, when did it start for you?

Lucy: I have always been a writer. But I was not doing it professionally, at least not in fiction. But I’ve always read romance and that was where my heart was. Every time that I had a break to read, I was picking up a romance novel. But I went to school for journalism, and I did not like working for newspapers.

So I started fiddling around with little stories on the side, and notebooks, nothing serious. And my brother told me, he’s like, “Publishing’s changing. You can publish yourself now.”

So he would feed me information about it, and I got more serious about wanting to see if I could actually write a book. I was laid off from a job with a newspaper for a few months. And I decided I was going to take that time and write a novella. And it took me like a year, a year to write maybe 25 thousand words, I’m not sure. It was very short. It took a very long time.

James Blach: Tell me about that year, then. The 25 thousand words. Your learning how to write a longer-form story.

Are you taking any online courses or anything at this point to learn how to write?

Lucy: Not really. I had taken a lot of creative writing classes in college. And I just assumed that I knew it all. I was like, “I can do this.”

James Blach: You found it quite difficult the first time.

Lucy: I did. It was very hard for me tom focus and commit. And I didn’t have any contacts in the writing or publishing world. So I was all alone, just trying to figure things out.

I was working as a freelance author for some other publications. So I was focusing on that. And then in my down time, I would pick up my little tiny novella. And I finally hit Publish on it in 2014, I think, and sold 35 whole copies.

James Blach: Whoa.

Lucy: Yeah.

James Blach: Did you know the 35 people who bought it?

Lucy: Yeah. At least 30 of them, I knew.

So I was shocked that I did not make it to Number One on the charts. And I kind of just put it aside for a little while.

But my brother was in a forum where these two other authors had started their publishing label. And they were talking about it a lot. So he posted in the forum, “Hey, my sister just wrote this novella.” And a couple months later, I get contacted by one of those authors, who said they read my novella and really liked it, and wanted to know if I would be interested in turning it into a novel, so they could republish it.

I was like, “Oh, man. I don’t have another year to turn 25 thousand words into 50 thousand.” So, it took me probably another seven or eight months or so. And in … what was that?

Tim: March.

Lucy: March of 2015, the new version, Undercover Love, came out. It was a 50 thousand word novel. And it did reasonably well. I didn’t have anything to do with the publishing side. But I saw the royalties, and I was like, “Okay. I can put myself on a five-year plan. And I can speed up my efficiency a little bit, and get better at writing. I could release maybe two books a year. And in five years, if I save up, I cam do this full-time.”

James Blach: Let me ask about the genre, because romance is a wide genre, and you get all favors.

Did you have an idea when you first wrote that first book of where you were going to pitch it on the scale?

Lucy: Yes. I’m a big fan of contemporary romance, and that is the biggest genre in the world. So I wanted the biggest audience I could have, and that’s what I enjoy reading. So, just a natural fit for me.

James Blach: And in terms of whether it’s squeaky clean, or full-blown erotica …

Lucy: In the middle. Explicit sex scenes, there’s no closed door stuff. But there’s a story.

James Blach: And that was the decision from the beginning, as well, that you pictured there.

Lucy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Blach: Okay. So they published for you, this couple, the other authors who started their company. And you started to feel success.

You made your five-year plan, which involved what?

Lucy: At the time, I was working full-time for an accounting firm as a marketing director. So I had a decent salary, and I thought, “Okay, if I can start to put out two books a year, and save my salary, then I should be able to give this full-time author thing a shot.”

These accountants were a little on the conservative side, so I didn’t tell them that I was writing romance in my spare time. But it did start to leak at work. Some of my co-workers found out, and secrets just don’t keep in small companies.

I felt guilty for hiding it, so I went to one of my bosses on a Monday, and I confessed. I said, “I just wanted to let you know, I have this hobby on the side. My second book is coming out this week. Just wanted you to know.”

And she’s like, “Good for you. That’s great.” So, that was a Monday, and then on a Wednesday, they called me into the conference room and fired me.

James Blach: That’s unbelievable.

Lucy: They were shutting down my department, and they gave me until the end of the year to find a new job. I was devastated. There goes my five-year plan. Now I’m going to have to stop what I’m doing writing-wise, and work my resume, find a new job. This resets everything.

So the very next day, my book came out, and did astronomically well. It just shot up the charts. It hit Number One on Amazon in the Kindle store.

James Blach: In the whole Kindle store.

Lucy: In the whole Kindle store.

James Blach: Wow.

Lucy: I didn’t expect it, especially not after how the first novel did. So this was a big surprise. And I didn’t have access to the sales numbers, so I didn’t quite grasp how big Number One was. And I was still, in my mind, thinking, “I got to get a job. I need to work my resume.”

We did a conference call with one of the publishers. And she was like, “You need to quit your job now.” And I was like, “Oh, I can’t do that. I can’t quit my job. I need to pay my bills.”

And she said, “We’ll give you an advance for what you’ve earned so far this month.” And I was like, ” Well, what’s that going to be?” And she named my entire annual salary. And I was like, “I will quit tomorrow.”

James Blach: That’s amazing. Do you remember what you did that first month? Are you happy to share that?

Lucy: Sure. They were giving me an advance on the first, like, two weeks?

Tim: Yeah, I forget how that actually went.

Lucy: I had a $40 thousand advance from them, and that wasn’t even a month of royalties.

James Blach: So, that’s 50% of the profit.

Lucy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Blach: Yeah. So at that point, you’d had $80 thousand.

Lucy: Yeah, and I think we ended that first month with … because we were on a 50/50 royalty split, so I believe total, it was $200 thousand for the month.

James Blach: Wow. With one, well, with two books. But yeah, basically-

Lucy: Two books.

James Blach: … it boiled down to one book.

Lucy: Yes. Because that book did so well, my first book ended up in the top ten of Amazon, also. So, it was crazy.

James Blach: What a great writer you must be.

Lucy: I do feel like I am an excellent writer.

Tim: That’s what I tell her.

James Blach: Well, that’s so cool. And then, did you quit your job?

Lucy: I did. I put my two weeks’ notice in, and it felt awesome.

James Blach: So, having them said to you, “you’ve got to get out of here,” and you being all kind of, “Oh, my god. Don’t do this to me,” you went in a couple weeks later and said, “Oh, by the way … ”

Lucy: “I’m leaving. Good luck with everything.”

James Blach: Yeah.

Lucy: They were like, “Well, who’s going to do all the rest of the work?” “I don’t know.”

James Blach: “The thing is, I don’t care.” How cool was that?

Lucy: It was fantastic. It was really good. And the person who stepped in to the position after me was really good at it, so we all won.

James Blach: Did they discover how incompetent you’d been up to that point, and said, “Oh, thank god she’s gone.”

Lucy: Yeah, I think so. They were, “Oh, wow. So this is what a real marketing director does.”

James Blach: So then, you quit. I quit my full-time job in 2013. And I can still remember feeling anxious that first year, maybe. And literally the next day, on top of a double-decker bus in London, sitting … Not having a panic attack quite, but thinking, “What have I done?” Did you have that feeling?

Lucy: Yes. Oh, I still sometimes get that feeling. It’s just a sense of insecurity. You’re entirely dependent on something that you don’t have control over.

Tim: That year, it was a lot of talking her down from, “What have I done? I need a job. I can’t do this.” This is what people do. They don’t quit their jobs and write books.

James Blach: Right.

Lucy: Unless they’re Nora Roberts.

James Blach: Yeah. But actually, they do now. And you’re representative, not of just one or two people, but quite a few people now, who have direct access to readers. And they can write, they can work from home, and it’s amazing.

Lucy: Never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blach: Good phrase. We should use that.

Tim, what are you doing at this stage. Because I know you’ve been working. I know you’ve had a whole variety of jobs, including CIA informant.

Tim: No.

Lucy: You’re pixelating his face, right?

James Blach: Yes, of course.

Tim: You know, at that time, I was flipping houses.

James Blach: I don’t know what that means. Is that … quite difficult to lift a whole house.

Lucy: He’s very strong.

Tim: Buy a house, usually cheap, and it needs a lot of work. Fix it up. Then you sell it.

James Blach: You’re sort of self-employed.

Tim: Yeah. I’d been self-employed for a couple of years before that. Because I had rental units and I also did some private investigating work, stuff like that. So it was all self-employed stuff.

James Blach: Okay. So we’ll move things on a little bit with your story. You have still got your books published by this indie publishing company, on the 50/50 deal.

Lucy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Blach: And at some point, you started to get itchy fingers, and wanted your hands on the numbers, which I think is understandable. Probably the right decision at the time for you to go with a publishing company, it sounds like.

Lucy: Yeah. They had a much broader knowledge of publishing than we did at the time. And they did a great job. I did five books with them. But at that point, I wanted control.

James Blach: Yeah.

Tim: She likes the control.

Lucy: I wanted to pick the covers and the titles. I wanted to write the blurbs. I wanted a say in the advertising. So it was just a natural progression for us to branch out on our own and I suggested to Tim one night, I said, “What if you were my publisher?”

Tim: Because I knew so much about it.

James Blach: Sounds like a natural progression from the things you’d done.

Tim: Yeah.

Lucy: And it was very daunting, I think, to both of us at first. Because there’s so much to learn about it. Not just writing, but publishing and marketing and communicating with your readers.

If you look at the big picture, it is terrifying, and nobody would ever want to do it. So, you just have to break it down by focus, and start there.

James Blach: So, you got your copyright back, or did they expire? Or did you negotiate yourself out of that?

Lucy: We had three-year deals with the publisher on all five books. And you did buy back the last two early.

Tim: We just, at the beginning of this year, we got the last three back.

James Blach: Okay.

Tim: So we have full control over all of them.

James Blach: So when did you say to the publishing company, “I’d like … ”

Lucy: 2016. In the middle of 2016`. I had fulfilled my three-book contract with them. And we met up with them at a conference, and we were just chit-chatting. And we told them that we were going to go out on our own. And they were like, “Good luck. Have fun. You’ll be great.”

James Blach: Good. Well, they were like a little incubator, weren’t they?

Lucy: Yeah.

James Blach: They got you started, which was great. So you then sat down and thought, “Right. This is easy, publishing. We’ll do that just after breakfast. Then we can go for a walk.”

Tim: Right.

Lucy: Great. We’ll do this from a beach in the Caribbean. No problem.

James Blach: How’d it work out?

Lucy: Our first year was pretty lean. I hadn’t done anything with those first five books to … I call it making yourself sticky. So when a reader picks up your book, you want them to follow you everywhere. So I didn’t really have a strong social media presence. I didn’t have a newsletter. I didn’t have a very good website.

So, there was nothing that would make a reader stick with me, and be there waiting for the next book. So that was a big focus of ours after we realized. We launched two books back-to-back. Because I write long, and I thought it was going to be one book, and I just kept going. So I ended up with a duet, with a cliff-hanger in the middle. That didn’t go well.

James Blach: We should say, the reason it doesn’t always work is because it can annoy readers who invested in a book, get to the end, and there’s no happy ending.

Lucy: Yeah.

James Blach: We should talk about it.

Obviously, you do want readers to go on to the next book. So there’s a balance between it basically being a stunt, a story that does wrap itself up, but allows for progression.

Lucy: Yes, yeah.

James Blach: And you learned that the hard way.

Lucy: We did.

Tim: I think some readers are like, “Oh, you’re just trying to sell me another book. So why didn’t you just put this into one book?” But it would have been over a 200 thousand word book-

Lucy: It would have been really, really long.

Tim: So instead of writing that huge book, the natural thing was just to split it in two.

James Blach: So, did you get a few angry emails?

Lucy: I didn’t get much of anything.

Tim: Yeah. It was just crickets.

Lucy: Not that many people read the duet. We didn’t have any background in advertising at the time. And I didn’t have a huge newsletter list waiting for me to tell them there’s a new book out. So that experience was really rough on me.

Tim has always been confident that we could do this. He’s always believed in me more than I’ve believed in myself. So, he’s like, ‘We’ll make this work. We’re learning.”

And I was like, “Oh, this is the worst thing ever.” That was fun.

But I started getting more confident about, “Okay, let’s keep going. Let’s press on, see how this goes.” And we published a few more books.

James Blach: And what practical steps? Because obviously, you must have realized at that point that you didn’t really have a platform.

Lucy: Yes.

James Blach: So what practical steps did you take? Tim, did you start driving this strategically?

Tim: Well, we definitely worked on our back matter, and got the website done nicely. And we shored up your newsletter, and-

James Blach: So, the back matter, you mean stuff in the back of the book that leads your reader there, to the point where they’re feeling closer to you as a writer.

Lucy: Yes.

James Blach: … when they get to the end of the book, that is, “Here’s how to get on to my list,” or “Here’s something-

Tim: Yes. Obviously, if they made it that far in your book, they didn’t think it was total crap.

Lucy: And I think one of the best things I did was start a reader group on Facebook. It’s Lucy Score Binge Readers Anonymous.

I can’t take credit for it. I started it, but I ended up with the best readers in the world in that group. And they have single-handedly carried my career forward from there.

James Blach: Pause on that, because we are going to talk about your readers.

Lucy: Okay.

James Blach: And I hope they’re all watching this.

Lucy: I hope so, too. This is Mr. Lucy, guys.

James Blach: And at the point of which they want 1966 historical military fiction to read alongside the contemporary romance, is obviously the place to go. Because there’s a real crossover there, I feel.

Lucy: I think so. I think so.

James Blach: Just kidding your readers.

I know that’s a big part of how things have developed for you, and it’s great. Such an important thing to have the back matter correct. This stuff doesn’t necessarily come naturally. These are the little marketing guru tips that you pick up through, I guess, being online, talking to other people, or going to conferences. People wonder what the value sometimes is, of getting on a plane and flying to Florida to hang out with other authors, and-

Lucy: In September.

James Blach: … in September, instead of writing. And there you come away from that with 25 thousand new names on your list.

How important is your list to you, in terms of your marketing strategies?

Lucy: It is the most essential tool.

Tim: Oh, it launches you into the top-

Lucy: Twenty.

Tim: Sometimes top ten, yeah. Everything-

Lucy: It’s really-

Tim: … you’re pretty much guaranteed-

Lucy: Unless I write a really bad book.

Tim: The word gets out to all your readers before … But her readers are great. And they’re waiting there for that next Lucy book.

James Blach: It’s time to talk about your readers. You are clearly a very good writer, Lucy.

Lucy: Thank you.

James Blach: I’m not just saying that, but the evidence is there. Your first book, when it got a little bit of visibility, did phenomenally well. And people become fiercely loyal to you. You’ve got this Facebook group, you’ve got people who travel to events.

Tell us about a couple of these events you’ve been to.

Lucy: Well, I’ve hardly done any, because I think my time is best spent home in pajamas writing. But I did get invited to sign at Nora Roberts’ bookstore in Boonsboro. And I was really nervous, because she’s my personal hero, there with Oprah. And she was going to be there signing as well. So I was very, very nervous.

I put it out there to my readers, “Who is going to go to Boonsboro, Maryland in February?” Coldest day of the year. I didn’t have expectations. And they created a group on Facebook, called it LucyCon. They got tee shirts, they bought plane tickets, they came in. There were 40-some of my readers from my reader group, that came in. And they came in in the second wave of ticket holders. And the rest of the authors were like, “Who are you again?” It was the most exciting experience, I think, as an author.

Tim: Overwhelming experience.

Lucy: It was very overwhelming. And I was sitting there, ten feet away from Nora Roberts, who’s signing like crazy. And there’s people coming up to me who are so excited to see me, they brought presents. They were all wearing my tee shirts. I don’t know. I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

It was just the most amazing thing. And one of the readers, Tammy, organized a dinner afterwards. So there were 50 people having dinner together, just taking pictures. I mean, they met each other at the airport, they carpooled, they shared Air BnBs-

James Blach: How lovely, though.

Tim: Yeah. Most of these people never met each other face to face, other than on Facebook or in the reader groups.

James Blach: Has that experience changed your writing? When you sit down and write your next book, have you got a bit more pressure on you now?

Lucy: I don’t think so. When I write books, I’m really thinking about the kind of book that I want to read.
Thankfully, I have pretty common interests. But I started naming characters after some readers. Putting little Easter eggs in there, just because they made me feel really special, really important to them. And I want them to know how much I value them.

James Blach: That’s great. And I’ve mentioned this before on the podcast, but a particular trait of the indie world , you do get to have that fun time with readers. And in the past, I think authors have been a little bit more standoff and formal … lines in a bookshop to have your five seconds with them. Not the kind of informal … social media’s allowed that to happen. So, it’s great.

Lucy: Yeah. It’s a great time to be a writer, and it’s an even better time to be a reader.

Tim: That’s good.

James Blach: Tim, at this stage, this is now your full-time job?

Tim: Yeah.

James Blach: The house flipping has ended?

Tim: House flipping has ended. Swinging a hammer is only a hobby now.

James Blach: And has it worked out in terms of your, dare I ask, your relationship? Because my wife has basically made it clear to me, we’re never working together. I’d like her to do my accounting stuff. She’s like, “Not going to happen. There’s the internet; you find an accountant.”

Tim: It’s always been a concern of ours, that we would get sick of each other, and be like, “Go to work. Get out of the house.” But so far, no. We pretty much tolerate each other.

Then we kill each other, and … Every morning, I get up and I do not dread … I work down in the basement. That’s where my office is.

James Blach: And you’re locked in the basement.

Tim: Yeah. My dungeon down there.

Lucy: His lair.

Tim: But the main thing is, we are workaholics. We work all the time, so we actually have to set time aside to actually-

Lucy: Pretend to be married.

Tim: … do a couple things. And go out to dinner, or a lot of vacations now are turning into work vacations. So, I don’t know if that’s going to bite us in the ass eventually, or what.

James Blach: It doesn’t seem so.

Lucy: We’ll roll with it. I love that … Work is very important to me. And I love that I can talk to Tim about it. And he gets it. If I get a horrible, scathing review, he’s already upset on my behalf. Or if I wrote a really great scene that I’m excited about, he can’t wait to hear it.

He reads all my books.

James Blach: I imagine that’s a real plus. In a lot of relationships, you can have a bad day where you come home. And you can obviously, if you’re a good partner, you’re a good listener and stuff. But ultimately, you don’t understand it.

But if you’re working together, and you say, “We’ve got a one-star review here,” and stuff, it hurts both of you in the same way. So it’s a nice thing to share. You’re a team, Team Lucy.

Tim: Just like every industry, there’s drama. So, “What’s today’s drama? What’s happened with Facebook? What’s happened with Amazon?” So we can vent to each other about that, where nobody else that we know, at least close by, knows what we’re going through. They don’t know, “Oh, I understand that. That must suck. That would suck that they’re not doing this, or they’re not allowing you to do this.” So it’s nice to be able to have it at home-

Lucy: Commiserate.

James Blach: It works well for you. And it’s going to be different for different people. But I know people will be listening, and watching this podcast, who are moving towards this full-time stage, and thinking … And it does. If you’ve got the opportunity, from a financial point of view, it makes a lot of sense. And actually, historically, it’s how businesses used to run. In the old days, the village store was run by the family.

Lucy: A husband and wife and their kids. Yes.

James Blach: But mostly, you go out and you have separate nine-to-five jobs and stuff.

Tim: Most of your writer friends, they do all of it themselves. They do all the marketing, all the proofing, all the editing, all the cover designs, all the book work, paying your taxes, and then their husband, well, usually their husband, they have their own nine-to-five job.

But with this arrangement, I don’t have a very good creative bone in my body. I can’t write a book, so whatever I can do to lessen the load for her, and let her write her books, and go on social media and correspond with the readers …

Lucy: Tim has more work than I do. I do the writing, the social media, and whatever … advertising writing. But he does everything. He formats the books, he works with the cover designer, he works with the audiobook production. He does all our taxes. Thank you for the paycheck.

Tim: Yes.

Lucy: He’s busier than I am. I don’t know how people do it themselves. It’s crazy.

James Blach: I think they just work harder than you two.

Lucy: They don’t have as many happy hours.

James Blach: Nine o’clock in the morning.

There was a moment today we were faffing about with the cameras. And you were on your knees, on the ground, writing.

Lucy: Yeah.

James Blach: And I can that it is something you struggled to move yourself away from.

Lucy: Yeah. Especially when writing’s going well, I am angry about any interruption. If it’s going well, I don’t want to stop until that dries up. Having regular person obligations just drives me crazy sometimes. It’s a good thing we don’t have kids.

Tim: It’s tough, because we have a schedule, like each vacation, or something tropical. And she’s like, “But I have words to write.”

Lucy: Yeah.

Tim: I’m like, “No, you have to put it down.

James Blach: And you mentioned you don’t have kids, so I know some people listening to this will think, how would they do that with kids. But that would make a dynamic … make it more difficult. And you know, just thinking about people trying to think, “Well, will this work for me?”

It will be different for different couples.

Lucy: Yeah. Really, being an author is about finding the aspects of the career that fit you best. So if you’re releasing one book a year, that’s what you focus on. And you do it as well as you possibly can. You have a really convenient situation like I have, take advantage of it. Shovel some of those responsibilities off to a team member, and focus on what you need to focus on

James Blach: And bring us up to date.

How many books have you got out now, and how’s it going?

Lucy: 20 books are published now. 21 is in the hopper for a September release. And I’m writing the next one. That’ll be my fourth book this year. I think I was doing six books a year at my max.

Tim: Six or five.

Lucy: So now I’m down to four, which is a lot more comfortable for me. Financially, it’s going great. We hit just over three quarters of a million dollars last year.

James Blach: Fantastic.

Lucy: And we already beat that this year.

James Blach: Fantastic.

Lucy: I know, it’s crazy. I get to work my dream job.

James Blach: How are things for you, Tim? You’re sitting in this beautiful house in the Pennsylvanian countryside, living the lives of writers in your shorts during the day. That is the dream, right?

Lucy: It is. It’s crazy. I mean, it’s hard. It’s really hard. I don’t want people to think … I hear a lot of writers talk about how easy writing is. “Oh, I sneezed out a book. What’s your problem?”

Tim: I’ve had to talk her off the cliff.

Lucy: But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean that you’re not good at it.

Tim: Right.

Lucy: It doesn’t mean that there’s no room for a career. If it’s not hard, you might be missing out on something.

James Blach: Yeah. Kennedy-esque. The reason we choose to do these things is because they’re hard.

So your marketing platform you built has obviously made the difference. And you had that first year, where there was a drop down when you inherited the books. Built the platform, and the results, you just talked about as being clear to see.

What were the key moments of your marketing development?

Lucy: I think one of the things that we really hit on … When I came into this, everybody was saying, “You need to write series. You have to write a series. When you get to number five in a series, you’ll have three books from that series on a list. That didn’t happen for me.

So what we discovered is, my standalones are a really, really great way to pull new readers in. You’re not pulling new readers into you with number six in a series. So we put out a stand-alone, and that’s when we started to see the tide turning. We saw significantly more sales. That was Mr. Fixer-Upper.

Tim: Yeah.

Lucy: And right about that time, I believe we signed up for the Ads for Authors course.

Tim: It was before that.

Lucy: Okay. So we were focusing on building the newsletter list at that time. This year, 2019, our focus is advertising. So we kind of dusted the course back off, ran back through it, and we just really started paying attention to every single detail of an ad. Especially on the Facebook platform.

So, the copy, the headline, the image … and I think we really hit our stride with it. And it really came in handy with launching the standalones. Because we’re hitting this much bigger audience, we’re pulling people in.

And then we’re funneling them right into a series. We’re going to be focusing on advertising a backlist. The series that I just am wrapping up now, I co-wrote with Claire Kingsley. Hi, Claire. It’s Bootleg Springs. It’s a six-book, small town, RomCom series with a mystery. And number six is her book. It’s coming out at the end of this month.

So, once that’s done, we’re actually going to be hitting it, advertising the whole entire series from two different sides. So, we’re really excited to see how that pans out. I think marketing has just given it the staying power.

Tim: And it really levels off the peaks and the valleys.

Lucy: ‘Yeah.

Tim: You always have that huge peak when you launch a book, and then it just dies down. But also, it helps that your backlist is getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

So, you can start, the troughs can be quite, not quite as deep, with advertising. So you can advertise your backlist and really keep new readers coming into the fold.

James Blach: How important would you say paid ads are in your career now?

Lucy: Right now, very. Yeah. We didn’t do a whole lot before this year. We were doing well. You can absolutely do well without spending a ton on advertising.

James Blach: If you write brilliant books.

Lucy: If you write brilliant books.

Tim: Yeah. That’s half the battle. Then you have to let people know that you write brilliant books.

James Blach: Increasingly, it’s getting to the point where paid advertising is becoming a necessity, from a luxury. But I guess you may say, because you had such a fantastic year last year without too much … Be interesting in a couple years’ time, whether you think, “Would we ever not advertise again?”

Lucy: Right. And the market’s different now than it was even last year. There’s a lot of competition. Marketing will buy you visibility. So you can have your readers working the organic stuff on this side. But the advertising is almost a guarantee of a slower dip in sales. Which is really helpful.

Tim: The big issue we had earlier on when we started advertising, we didn’t stick with it. We threw a couple of ads up. They didn’t work. We’re like-

Lucy: Well, that’s it.

Tim: Yeah. And it’s hard to spend a lot of money on ads when you’re not making a lot of money. So, if you throw up some ads for $20, and “oh, they didn’t work,” and try a couple of ads, they didn’t work. Well, you have to try to streamline and make sure, “Oh, well, this ad , this copy’s working. And this photo’s working.” So you try all different variations.

Eventually, you’ll find something that really fits with the readers.

James Blach: It’s like everything. It does take a bit of effort.

Tim: It does, it does.

James Blach: Particularly on the Facebook platform, where there are a lot more variables involved in the decision-making.

Tim: Oh, yeah.

James Blach: And yeah, well it’d be remiss of me not to mention the Ads for Authors, which you talked about as being a part of it. So Mark would chastise me if I didn’t say anything. “I think she did mention Ads for Authors, James.” And that year, you bought … I don’t know when you bought it but it changed a lot.

So that time you dusted it down this year, quite a lot of the platforms had changed, and so perhaps you had to relearn that. It worked out for you?

Lucy: Yeah. It’s really nice that you always have access to it, so you get all of the updates. Because everything is changing, and it’s changing very, very quickly.

Tim: And there’s so much stuff on there that we haven’t even utilized yet.

James Blach: BookBub ads?

Tim: Yeah. Well, we’ve done them. We don’t do them very well yet. And we haven’t even looked at them on the Ads for Authors, yeah. It’s on the list.

James Blach: Yeah.

Tim: There’s always stuff on the list-

James Blach: So, Amazon ads are running?

Lucy: We do very little with AMS right now, just because they’re very volatile. It’s not a consistent return.

Tim: Yeah. It’s hard to see the metrics of it.

Lucy: Most of our budget goes into Facebook. For now. But I’m sure it’ll be different by next year.

James Blach: Everything will be different by next year.

Lucy: Yeah.

James Blach: That’s the way it rolls. Look, I want to say thank you so much indeed, for inviting us into your home, and –

Lucy: Thanks for being here.

James Blach: … And your work, I want to … Well, we got you out last night.

Lucy: That’s right.

James Blach: And you took us to a really cool rooftop bar.

Lucy: We had beer.

James Blach: Where are we?

Lucy: Pennsylvania.

James Blach: Pennsylvania.

Tim: Near Harrisburg.

James Blach: If you’re in a certain part of America, you’re in Pennsylvania. It just goes on forever

Lucy: Yes. It’s large. Texas is the same way.

Tim: It’s a little bit larger.

James Blach: Half of Texas, no one lives in.

Tim: Right.

Lucy: Right, right.

James Blach: No. It’s a beautiful house.

Lucy: Thank you.

James Blach: We’re so excited, and so pleased with your success. We bumped into each other probably three years now. I think at NINC in the last couple of years, there and here. And Mark and I are always thrilled to hear these stories, and it’s uplifting. So, thank you. And we’ll keep in touch. We want to hear what happens with the future.

Lucy: Sounds good.

Tim: Thank you very much.

James Blach: There you go. Lucy and Tim. Brilliant. You met Lucy and Tim, haven’t you?

Mark Dawson: Yes, I have. I met Lucy in the swimming pool at Nathan Van Coops’ pizza party with Beau … Bo, Boo?

James Blach: Beau.

Mark Dawson: Beau, yes. You say Beau, I say Boo. But, yes.

James Blach: Boo.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. That was great fun. Lovely to meet her. She’s very smart, and I’ve picked up some new tactics from her that I’m going to be testing out quite soon.

James Blach: Oh, you have? You’ve picked up tactics from her?

Mark Dawson: I have, yeah. She’s doing the epilogue as the giveaway at the end of the book. That’s where I first heard about that. So, we’re going to be trying that quite soon, rather than a novella or a novel. And it could work quite well.

James Blach: That was another thread that went slightly wrong in the group, with somebody arguing that you can’t cheat. You can’t cheat your readers. But that’s not really what’s going on here.

Mark Dawson: Yes. She didn’t get it.

James Blach: No. And I haven’t got them printed here. But I’ve done my crash reports. Which, look, I’m really pleased with the way they look together back of my book.

I mean, that’s really based on your profile report from MI6. And I went down to the National Archive and got them to photograph them, and photograph some richer ones to make it look cool. And you can get old typewriter fonts very easily.

Mark Dawson: Yeah.

James Blach: So, older stuff is doable. I should say, the person we met in Yuma, his name, I briefly forgot, was Peter F. Smith. I shouldn’t forget, because he’s kind of based his name on Peter F. Hamilton, who’s an author local to me. Fantastic sci-fi author.

Peter’s having great fun writing some sci-fi books, and trying to make his way as a self-published author. And where you and your instruction, are helping him greatly at the moment.

I think that’s it. One final link I will give out is the link to the waitlist for our live event in March. I know people who missed out getting a ticket the first time would like to know if tickets become available. So you can go to Spslivewaitlist, all on word.

Get your name down there. I think we’ve had three people email us and say that they’re not going to come. And their tickets will go back into circulation.

We won’t do the resale until probably February, closer to the actual time. But get your name on that list. We’ve also held back … At the moment, we probably have about 20 or so spaces that aren’t allocated, and will probably go out for sale last thing, as well. So, there is a chance, still, to come if you want to do that.

Right, Mark Dawson. Over your fit of giggles?

Mark Dawson: Yes. Sorry about that, Mr. Sex Sleeve.

James Blach: Oh, sex sleeve. That’s what it was called. It was called … It’s called a Sensual Sleeve. “I couldn’t get it out my hand. That was the problem, onto the sleeve.”

Mark Dawson: All of the fun we have.

James Blach: Oh, the long nights flew by. We went to see the Beatles, didn’t we? We went to see the Cirque du Soleil Beatles Love Show, which was superb.

Mark Dawson: We did. We bought four beers for about $65.

James Blach: Yeah. I saw that.

Mark Dawson: They were very big beers, which we didn’t finish. But yes, it was very fun.

James Blach: I can’t drink those beers, because they’re full of wheat, Blue Moon.

Mark Dawson: Oh, yes. That’s right.

James Blach: Was there a choice?

Mark Dawson: Yes. I got the one that you and Tom had.

James Blach: Thanks for that.

Mark Dawson: I aim to please.

James Blach: I’ve also come back with a post-Vegas cold, which John Dyer has, as well. You somehow escaped. Considering how many colds you have, I’m amazed. You probably had this one.

Mark Dawson: I probably have. I did get some sleep on the plane, so I didn’t even have that much jet lag. So I was quite worried about it. Coming back is hard. But this time has been reasonably easy. So, I’m pretty much back in the swing of things, now.

James Blach: Excellent. Okay. Right. Look, that’s it for this week.

We have a couple of good interviews coming up, including … Mark, I haven’t showed you yet, but in the next couple of weeks, I think we will have that interview with The Female Billionaires, which is Lucy Score’s second appearance on the show. But it’s really worth watching. It’s a great, motivational interview.

Oh, and also, I should say, we did fantastic couple of interviews in Vegas themselves, including with Patrick O’Donnell, who’s a cop. And Patrick’s got two months left, I think, two months and two days, or something, he said, left. Which sounds like the ominous beginning of a novel, doesn’t it?

Mark Dawson: Oh yeah. Just one more assignment.

James Blach: But this is somebody who’s been in uniform, on the streets, in a city with shots fired every day of his career, and murders every other day. And a really, really good insightful interview about the reality of being a policeman on the streets.

I think it’s going to be very useful for people writing in a lot of different genres. Even romance, getting cops right is important. So it’s a really compelling interview, as well, we are very privileged to listen to, and to Patrick’s career. Good writer, as well.

Okay. That is it. I think we can say goodbye. So, just to remind people,, should you wish to help our show along, we’d be very grateful. But until next week…

Mark Dawson: These sex sleeves don’t but themselves.

James Blach: They don’t. They’re $39.00 plus tax. Unfortunately, some of that is still there in the tray. I was so annoyed, I didn’t pick it up. Because I kind of knew I probably had bought it at that point, because Tom and I laughed at it for quite a long time. Clearly longer than 30 seconds.

Mark Dawson: Indeed. Yes. Anyway. I’ll say it’s goodbye from me.

James Blach: And it’s goodbye from him.

Mark Dawson: Goodbye.

James Blach: Goodbye.

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