SPS-220: Audio for Authors – with Joanna Penn

Leading light in the independent publishing sphere, Joanna Penn, talks to James about the future of audio in all forms (audiobooks, podcasting, voice synth) and how it could positively impact authors.

Show Notes

  • Audio as the fastest growing segment in publishing
  • On the monetization of podcasts
  • The importance of protecting your intellectual property (IP)
  • Why content matters in audio and in books
  • Tips and suggestions for distributing and marketing audiobooks
  • Writing for audio-first
  • How our voices are a way to connect with readers
  • What the future of audiobooks looks like

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page

DIGITAL EVENT: Were you not able to attend SPS Live? Get your digital ticket here.

MERCH: Are you a ligneous beetle or a yawning hippopotamus? Get your SPF hoodies and t-shirts in the brand new SPF Store.


Announcer: On this edition of the Self-Publishing Show.

Joanna Penn: When we read a book we don’t change the voice in our head depending on the character. This is the difference between an audiobook and say an audio drama which needs voices and is a production. This is a performance, yes, but the performance of the truth of a work.

Announcer: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers. No more barriers. No on 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 and welcome to the Self-Publishing Show with me, James Blatch.

Mark Dawson: And me, Mark Dawson. Hello.

James Blatch: Hello. Again we’re recording this a few days before so we don’t know exactly what the situation is on the planet so we might assume that someone hasn’t magically come up with a vaccine and we’re all getting closer and closer to the peak.

Certainly where we are in the UK they’re talking about May being the peak if they can keep it under wraps. The US I think is probably on a similar path and during this time things are, in some cases, completely turned upside down.

If you work for an airline everything’s turned upside down. Other industries are busier. If you work at a supermarket somewhere you’re probably busier than ever before

Mark Dawson: Anyone with kids.

James Blatch: Anyone with kids life is very, there’s a lot of upheaval. So we can have a little chat about adapting to those circumstances right at the beginning and then we have an episode with Jo Penn about audiobooks.

Now this is actually a good time I think to look at your back list, look at your inventory and work out if you’re maximizing your income from audiobooks translations, those sorts of things. Understanding them more thoroughly, understanding the pathways open to you, the investment decisions that you make at the beginning is a very important part of that.

Perfect time, is it not Mark, too, to learn all that stuff.

Mark Dawson: It is and it’s not just audiobooks. It’s audio for authors so she covers tons of things in the book. Audiobooks is a pretty important one, but there are other things that authors might want to think about.

Things like voice search, podcasts, all kinds of content like that just with the connective tissue is that it all uses a voice or sound or things like that. Definitely a book that I would recommend and that people will enjoy today.

James Blatch: Yes, we’ve got that coming up. We also had an episode just a few weeks ago actually just as this was starting and coincidentally really with Emma Prince who talked about her experience of becoming pregnant and knowing that there was going to be a period of time when she was distracted, is not quite the word but focused on other things away from her career and she was worried about her income during that period.

So she talked about how she planned for that and how to cope with that. So, that’s a very apposite episode. I think it’s about three episodes ago, Emma Prince. Look out for that one.

One thing to ask Mark, we’re in the early stages I think of the lockdown phase. I’m in isolation at the moment. It won’t be long before most people you talk to one way or another are restricting their movements quite severely.

As we enter that phase are you seeing any significant changes in sales?

Mark Dawson: I had a little bit of a dip so it’s been a little bit weird because I had a new book out about three days ago on Monday of this week as we record this which has skewed things a bit because it’s been a very good launch. I had seen a bit of a dip.

I had the lowest day I think I’ve had all year about a week ago and you’ve got to think about that. I don’t think it’s surprising. At the moment people aren’t reading fiction.

I think at the moment as we said last week it’s kind of a sense of what the F is going on and we need to educate ourselves, and also it’s very difficult not to read the news even though it’s probably not the best thing for our psychological health to just obsess about that.

I’m as guilty of that as anyone, probably more guilty in that than some people in that I am in the news all the time to find a, not in the news but I’m reading the news all the time about what’s going on.

I think with that people aren’t necessarily buying books and they’re probably not reading on subscriptions with KU either. So I had a dip but that will pass.

I’m pretty confident that the way this will look, well maybe as this goes out or certainly as we progress into the spring and then summer is that people are going to want distraction and they’re not going to be able to go to the cinema.

Cinemas are all closed in the UK and probably will be closed everywhere now. So that’s not possible and you’ll find, I know that I saw today the government or someone had basically told Netflix you might want to switch off your HD option because the demand on their service has gone through the roof as people are at home watching telly.

Not everyone wanted to do that and maybe not everyone will be able to get online at a speed that means they can download stuff. They’re going to want distraction and a very good way to do that is reading.

And then it gets better for us because Amazon is not taking third party products. That means they are cutting down on things like physical books, but I wonder how many Kindles they sold last week. Probably quite a lot of them and those Kindles are going to want to be fed.

They’re going to want content, and the beauty of digital publishing is that there is no physical product. There is no virus to catch as a courier comes to a house with a book. It’s press a button and it magically appears on your device within seconds.

James Blatch: Through the whole process we don’t have to rely on any physical…

Mark Dawson: No, we do nothing. It’s seamless. It’s absolutely seamless. I can’t think of many better industries that are suited to take advantage of a pretty shitty time, and we are in a good space to do that.

So, it’s a question of, I would say, significantly increased demand and not affected by distribution and supply chains being screwed up by drivers being sick, that kind of thing. As we record this I’m not optimistic about a lot of things but I am quite optimistic about the fact that people will be buying books in the medium term.

James Blatch: Yeah. I was thinking about genres.

Which genres are going to do well and I think you do have to go forward in time.

Mark Dawson: What’s the number one in the moment? Have you seen?’

James Blatch: Well, in the UK it was LJ Ross yesterday.

Mark Dawson: Not any more unless she’s come back as she probably has, but when I tell you it’s Dean Koontz’s The Eyes of Tomorrow which is the book from the 80s where he somehow coincidentally predicted a virus coming from Wuhan. It’s pretty nutty how that’s happened, but it’s happened before.

Tom Clancy wrote about that kind of 9/11 situation years before that happened too. It’s just one of those things of just weird coincidence. He went to number one and what was, I mean the film Contagion is very high on the Netflix charts at the moment. For me personally what on earth are people doing. I wouldn’t want to watch that right now.

James Blatch: John Dyer watched it. It’s a great film.

Mark Dawson: He’s weird.

James Blatch: It’s a great film.

Mark Dawson: It is a great film.

James Blatch: I actually classified it when we went to the BBFC and I remember thinking what a grim film. I really enjoyed it. It was a grim watch and a quite unsettling film to watch. I think at the moment it must be a heightened experience.

Mark Dawson: I wouldn’t watch it. I mean people like that. People like horror. They like that genre because people like to scare themselves. But then usually when you’re looking at that kind of stuff there’s usually you can say it’s just a book or it’s just a film or whatever it is.

James Blatch: Yeah, yeah and it’s happening outside.

Mark Dawson: It is.

James Blatch: But what you need to do, what we need to do is to project ourselves to the back end of this. So at some point midsummer hopefully things go as they’re sort of planning it at the moment, trying to plan it, they’ll be a down slope and I think it’ll be a really significant day because we would have had three months, four months of that number rising every day.

And there’ll be a significant point where we have fewer cases one day and maybe they’ll be some false moments there but eventually that line will start coming down. And I think that feeling at that point, John Dyer summed up that he thinks there’s going to be the mother of all parties.

It’s going to be that atmosphere. People are going to want to get on with the, the government will want you to start flying again going on all day.

They will want you to go back to work obviously for the economy and all the rest of it. I think people will feel different. They won’t want to watch Contagion at that point. They might want to watch it now, some people, weird people.

At that point I think you’re into your beach reads. I think your romances, your slightly happier or whatever particular fantasy more sort of escapism reads. I think they’re going to do well.

So, in fact that does cover most genres. That’s what most people write a book that people can get lost in, a murder mystery or whatever in your case. So that’s something to consider I think.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, it’s not a bad industry to be in. As I said last week this is a good opportunity to get stuck in and write some new stuff, get your first book out there or finish a trilogy or start something new. Learn how to market. All the kinds of things that we need to do it’s a really good time to do that now.

Also, I’m starting to see not just about marketing, I’m starting to see Facebook ads now. Clearly well targeted but looking at parents I’m seeing things like lesson plans for kids, activity boxes. There’s a line on that.

There’s a very fine line in terms of how you message that because on the one hand you don’t want to be seen to be profiting from an unsettling situation, but on the other hand parents need things to do for their kids and that could be a pretty good way of doing it.

I haven’t seen any ads yet, I don’t think, from authors saying you’re stuck in your house for the next six months. Lucky you, I’ve got a great new book for you. I haven’t seen anyone doing that but I bet it’s a matter of time.

I wouldn’t recommend that because I think that’s a pretty surefire way of getting lots of bad reviews and a lot of negative comments on your ad, but someone will try it.

James Blatch: I bought your book.

Mark Dawson: Oh, thank you very much. Which one? I’ve got about 35.

James Blatch: I know you have. Your new one. Cabin in the Woods, whatever it is.

Mark Dawson: It’s going well.

James Blatch: Yes, well thanks to me.

Mark Dawson: Yes.

James Blatch: I’m looking forward to reading that because that’s a good well written mystery police procedure and I’ll obviously be the judge of that when I finish it.

Mark Dawson: I’m scared now.

James Blatch: Yeah, I’m sure you are. It’s a perfect one to get into. I tell you J.K. Rowling is doing very well at the moment.

Mark Dawson: It’s comforting so I’m not surprised.

James Blatch: Yeah. It is interesting. Okay, so good time to if you do have that time and funny enough I don’t at the moment. I don’t know about you but it’s actually really busy for us.

We run our own company so I guess the people at the top of every company are actually doubly busy at the moment, but lots of employees for obvious reasons are the ones who may have some more time if you’re lucky or unlucky at this stage.

I know a lot of people will be in the position where they’ve got some hours back in their lives, nothing else to do and this is a great opportunity to learn new things. Which does I guess bring us on to today’s guest which is Jo Penn who’s always a great person to go to to inspire you to not leave any money on the table, to explore new avenues and opportunities. She did a great presentation at our London conference.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, something about that is quite funny. We did a little survey to people after the event and it was like loads of questions because we wanted to make it better next year if we do it again. And one of the questions was what was your favorite session. And Jo, the last time I looked, was twice as popular as me so she definitely can’t come next year. I’m forbidding it.

James Blatch: Her session was on multiple streams of income for authors and obviously another very apposite theme at the moment. You can watch the session by the way in its full entirety if you go to and sign up for a digital ticket for the conference. They’ll be available.

I think we’ll keep them open probably until they become irrelevant which will be next year hopefully when we do our follow up.

Okay, so let’s move on to that interview with Jo about her new book audio and also she gives out the name of the book in the interview but I’ll get it ready for you off the back end of the chat.

Jo Penn. I take it that settling down and smiling at the camera means you’re ready.

Joanna Penn: Yes.

James Blatch: That’s the cue. You suddenly stopped looking anxiously at your screen and smiled.

Joanna Penn: I thought you were ready.

James Blatch: I’m ready. I’m always ready.

Joanna Penn: You’re ready.

James Blatch: Welcome back to the Self-Publishing Show. One of our very, very first… You might have been the first. Were you the first?

Joanna Penn: I don’t think so, but thank you.

James Blatch: You weren’t far off.

Joanna Penn: Oh, well thank you. I always enjoy coming on and chatting to you and saying hi to everyone.

James Blatch: You are the queen of self-publishing podcasts anyway. Can we say queen anymore or do I have to say nonspecific gender person of podcasts. The king. The monarch I can say.

Joanna Penn: I’m pretty happy to be queen. I’m not too fussy on my pronouns.

James Blatch: Just checking. Well look, it’s really lovely to have you on the show again. I love chatting to you. We don’t see each other enough. It’s at conferences and stuff, isn’t it.

It’s always a bit of a fill up talking to you and I think also a dose of reality because I think you are very grounded in publishing and normally a quick conversation with you is a point where things that I briefly get excited about are quickly dismissed by you, or the other way around. This is what you should be thinking about.

I think that’s why people tune into you because you have your ear to the ground. You know what’s coming.

Joanna Penn: Oh, well thank you for that. I’ve been reflecting on this because I’ve recently been doing an overhaul of my website which is 11 years old now.

What I’ve discovered in cleaning up the old posts and articles and things and even podcast interviews is how many people have disappeared over the last decade. How many books have disappeared, how many authors have disappeared, how many businesses have gone.

Things that I reported on back in the day like a decade ago don’t exist anymore hilariously for our discussion today. Video books or vooks were trendy back in 2002.

James Blatch: Right.

Joanna Penn: It’s been a very interesting exercise. I hope I don’t sound dismissive of some things but I’ve seen so many things come and go now that I think I’ve developed a bit of an antenna for what might stick around.

Let’s be honest, we’re all busy so there’s no point getting excited or jumping into things that you don’t think are going to last so I think I’m quite careful, but also quite excited about new things.

James Blatch: I think your antenna works. Vooks just reminds me of what we would remember as Jackanory. That was a vook. Jacko was a children’s program in the evening when we were young in Britain when some B list celebrity read a book. It was wonderful actually.

Joanna Penn: Yeah, this was an actual company and it was more like the apps when you downloaded an app and it had some video and some text. It was kind of enhanced eBooks.

James Blatch: Oh, I see. Okay.

Joanna Penn: Even our discussion today about audio for authors I almost think that now audio is enhanced eBooks in a way. I think we’re moving into this enhancement is more about audio than it is about video.

James Blatch: The expressions and stuff that you don’t get when you’re reading, although part of the magic of reading is that you bring that yourself, don’t you. That’s why audiobooks are a slightly different thing which is what we’re going to talk about today.

You’ve been busy because you’re always busy, but you’ve been busy in the nonfiction world as well as your fiction business. A couple of books over the last couple of years. I think last time we spoke it may have been about sleep.

Joanna Penn: The Healthy Writer.

James Blatch: Yes, and diet and so on. And I did cut sugar out in my coffee as a result of that which that has stuck because you told me I was going to get Alzheimer’s. Oh yeah, I briefly forgot something so I should have cut out sugar earlier.

And now you’re on audiobooks. I’m really interested in this because I don’t know how much I’ve spoken to you about this but Mark and I have started our publishing empire. We are now magnets in that sense. We signed our first author.

I’m the person looking after the shop so I’m in the back end of KDP the whole time and planning out the year. Of course there are a number of things on that horizon and it’s a big question for us. We have a six book series. It’s not going to be cheap. A big question for us is audiobooks so I’m going to be paying really close attention to this.

We’ll talk about when it’s the right time as well as some of the practical skills. So what did you set out to do with the book?

Is this a one stop guide for an author about the whole ins and outs of audiobooks.

Joanna Penn: Yes and look, I’ve been podcasting since 2009 and I had a YouTube channel 2008 so I feel like I’ve been doing this a long time. And then what happened in 2019? A couple of things happened.

One, the big news in probably the last four years has been audiobooks but it’s seven years of double digit growth in audiobooks.

James Blatch: Wow.

Joanna Penn: So it is the fastest growing segment in publishing. It’s the one to watch.

Then also what happened was podcasting. I went to Podcast Movements in Orlando and what I realized the tipping point for podcasting some people said was Serial back in 2015. But in 2019 the money really came in and also the stats were around 55% of Americans over the age of 12 are now listening to podcasts. It’s something like 17 hours a week that people are listening so that was another thing.

And then I also found my own behavior had changed in terms of reading. So for about a decade I’ve been mainly Kindle and sometimes print. And what’s happened is I’ve shifted quite dramatically to mostly audio.

I don’t read blogs anymore. I listen to podcasts and I mostly listen to audiobooks on 1.5 speed instead of reading nonfiction. Particularly I read most nonfiction in audio and then I read some fiction as well.

So, all of those things kind of came together plus a number of questions that people ask. You guys know this. I was getting more and more questions from authors about audiobooks and podcasting.

Plus I also trained and did some coaching around voice narration so I’m actually an audiobook narrator now. I do my own books. All of these things together plus my love of AI which I’m sure we’ll come to, artificial intelligence.

I’ve got a voice double now, an AI voice double. There’s lots of things happening in that area. All these things came together and I was like okay, I really have to write a book. And this is how many of us write nonfiction is we learn a lot and then we think oh, I should put that down somewhere so I understand it.

The best way to help yourself is to teach others, as you guys know. I did the book. It’s out the beginning of March 2020 and, of course, I have self-narrated the audio.

That’s the genesis of the book. But I just feel like there’s a big tipping point for audio and we’re probably at not the very beginning but we’re probably in the early days.

James Blatch: Okay. I’ve got a few questions as a result of that.

You mentioned podcast mainly began after Serial. Is podcast, because we use podcasting for lead generation effectively. We’re honest about it. This is an absolutely massive amount of slog and hard work but it’s a very important part of our business to be seen and also for us to learn and talk to people so we know what we’re talking about.

But we don’t make money in that sense. We’ve never taken sponsorship. We occasionally do get offered a sponsorship but when I look at it it’s not really enough for us to take.

Joanna Penn: Do you have a Patreon on that?

James Blatch: We have a Patreon, yeah we do and that’s probably about $10,000 a year, maybe 10,000 pounds actually a year which is not bad. Is that where the money is going into podcasting or is there, people like Adam Buxton do a very popular podcast in the UK to sponsorship.

I don’t know whether that’s ever going to pay a lot.

Joanna Penn: Yes, well like self-publishing, like being an author, the top percentage of podcasters make serious amounts of money and then there’s a scattering at the next level. Most podcasters, like most authors, will not make much money.

And again it depends why you’re doing it. So you’re right. SPF is mainly as lead gen and serving the community. My podcast I started just so I could have some friends but over time since 2015 I’ve monetized with ads, with Patreon, with indirect sales. All of these things.

But what happened in 2019 is something like over a billion dollars in advertising came into podcasting. We saw Spotify who said we are going to own podcasts. We saw the rise of all these new podcast networks. And podcast fiction has become a thing. The series. There’s a lot of creative shops now doing straight to podcast.

Episodes that are getting picked up for TV. Law is an interesting one. The Law podcast started as a podcast but became books, became a Netflix or Amazon, Prime.

James Blatch: I love Law. So well produced. It was the earliest one I listened to that was really properly produced and sounded lovely.

Joanna Penn: Oh, yes it’s seriously properly produced.

What’s happened and again I think similar to the independent author movement started out as really, I mean when I started podcasting it wasn’t really called podcasting. I was downloadable audio that you got somehow to a device and put in that tape connected to your car back in the days of tapes.

Then it’s become more and more professional, more and more professional and now to stand out in the market things do have to be a bit more professional. There’s definitely still room for every kind of voice but there’s also these really big name companies coming in.

And what got me, this is hilarious because again this happens to indie authors. I’m at Podcast Movement and I’m sitting there and this producer network person comes up and hands me a card and says so, are you looking for a network? And I was like no, actually I’m an independent podcaster.

And it became very obvious that it’s like the publishing industry and that there are big companies with big budgets, big production teams owning the audio IP, the intellectual property. This is my hobby horse obviously because we are independent and owning our IP is part of how we make a living.

I’m an independent podcaster. You guys are independent podcasters. We are not on a network. We are not being paid a salary by a network and they don’t own our content.

That was another thing in my head. I saw the industry as shifting to grabbing IP and places are creating more and more of their own content. We’re seeing this obviously on TV with more of the services creating their own content and taking them off the distributors. We’re in an IP creation moment.

James Blatch: All about the content. I do remember big organizations, I worked for the BBC for a while and when the digital revolution happened they briefly thought it was all about channels so they started creating all these channels everywhere and it took about two years before they realized it’s all about content.

It doesn’t really matter how you deliver the channels and they started to go back on that. But we’ve been through this way.

Let’s talk about audiobooks then. Interestingly you say that we’re in the infancy of this because it feels quite well developed at the moment and there are some fairly clear routes that people can take at the moment.

Why don’t we spell those out to somebody who’s perhaps not gone through the process yet.

Joanna Penn: You can say it’s quite developed if you’re in the US market which is where a lot of us concentrate our time. Let’s say the US English speaking market, in fact, because even if you look at Spanish language audiobooks in the US it’s very underserved.

I went to the Frankfurt audiobook summit last, when was that October, September 2019 and listened to everyone talking about this. So basically for indies the reacher market if you are in the US, the UK, Canada and Ireland I think are the only countries you can use which is Amazon’s service.

But, if you’re anywhere else you can also use which is what I use. There are lots of services but those are the ones I use and I use them together. If you are a proponent of wide publishing which, of course, I am. We’ve talked about this before. Then you can do both.

I upload to ACX and I sign a nonexclusive contract with ACX and then I go to Findaway and also Findaway is nonexclusive. And what is awesome about Findaway and this is so important is libraries. The library market for audio is very exciting. Also, with Findaway you can reach the markets that are outside the realm of Audible.

Storytell is a hugely exciting service that is basically eating up all the other countries that Audible is not in right now or is not dominant in. That’s exciting. If you’re wide with audio you can end up with revenue from all over the world.

And, get this, with libraries so this is a little marketing technique. You can say to your readers and your listeners hey, you can get my audiobooks for free at your library. Just go in and ask and then for the library they can do a paper checkout fee and then you get paid basically.

So it’s better for the library, it’s better for you and it’s better for the patrons. Also, as we know right now there are some issues between big publishing and libraries. So this is a really good moment for indies to go for libraries.

Those are the main routes, whether you’re exclusive or not. There are pros and cons as ever with going exclusive or wide.

Personally we can talk about marketing if you like but if you have any form of international marketing then you should be wide because how else are you going to sell to customers in all those markets unless you are everywhere?

James Blatch: ACX is the equivalent of Kindle Unlimited. Is it still called that?

Joanna Penn: Yes. Well it’s not but you can go nonexclusive.

James Blatch: Oh, you can in ACX.

Joanna Penn: Yes.

James Blatch: Okay, so this is some of the detail that I’m not clear about which I think is worth spelling out because not everybody will be familiar with this. The choice between ACX and Findaway for instance.

If you can be nonexclusive with ACX why would you choose Findaway? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Joanna Penn: That’s why I do both. You can just use Findaway and they have some benefits there. For example, I believe their Voices Share program which is where you can do a joint venture basically with a narrator. I think you have to be exclusive, well not exclusive with them but they are a distributor through you to about 24 different retailers.

One of the huge benefits of Findaway is they allow you to set your price which, of course, you cannot do on ACX and many authors are very shocked about this. They’re like where’s the price field? It’s like well, there isn’t one.

James Blatch: It’s a subscription isn’t it through Amazon for the readers.

Joanna Penn: You can get a credit for the subscription but it’s also based on the length of the audiobook. And this is another little tip.

If you have short fiction it can be difficult to shift on ACX, but with Findaway it’s quite interesting because you can do a 99 cent thing with a cheap audio. And with nonfiction I have found that it doesn’t really matter that people will either buy the nonfiction or they’ll use their credit because nonfiction listeners are less price sensitive than fiction.

So there’s lots of pros and cons around that, but pricing we’re so used to as indie authors with eBooks and print books for sorting out our pricing and being in control. But you can’t do that with ACX.

As I said, I go with ACX and I click the nonexclusive button and then I go and also publish on Findaway. And that gives me I feel the greatest control.

You can get to ACX or to Audible and iTunes through Findaway as well. I don’t want it to sound too complicated to people. I mean obviously there are lots of other options including licensing your audiobook to a great audio service. I know Mark has signed audio deals with Audible particularly.

Obviously that means those properties are exclusive to the Audible environment which means they’re not globally available. They’re not available in libraries, but I’m sure he got a good chunk of cash. So you just have to decide what’s right for you, what’s right for your author journey I guess.

James Blatch: When you say do both ACX and Findaway, at what point is the production done and who does that?

Joanna Penn: That depends on what you decide. You can, with ACX and Findaway, work with a professional narrator. Both services can help you find a narrator or you can take auditions. You can find them separately.

I have previously worked separately with producers and then got the finished files and then uploaded them myself. The main thing is the control of the IP asset and this his really important with audio because actually if you do a separate contract… I mean generally the contracts with those services cover it, but if you do a private agreement you need to make sure you are assigned the audio production copyright. You know about this. You’ve come out in the BBC.

What’s interesting is how many narrators, for example, don’t own the recordings of their voices because the production copyright belongs to say the BBC or whoever. So it’s very important that you get that copyright assigned or you may come into issues later on.

That’s just a little tip on IP because what’s interesting with audio is that IP, the intellectual property and the copyright, is not just in the copy of the book. It’s also in the recording. And also the cover, this is another thing.

Let’s say you’re traditionally published in eBook and print format but you haven’t licensed your audiobook and you want to go and do that yourself. You don’t have the rights to that book cover. You have to sort out your own book cover or you may negotiate with the publisher to have the right to do an audiobook cover.

But the intellectual property considerations with audiobooks and podcasting are super important and I believe these are the things that are going to come up more and more around the ownership of IP over time.

James Blatch: The IP used to be something that was the main of bigger organizations and corporations and now we’re moving into an area where you and I need to understand this.

Joanna Penn: We always have been as independent authors, as authors, copyright is our business and what’s kind of crazy, especially with audiobooks is many people listening, if they are traditionally published, may well have already signed away their audio rights in a standard contract, which would have said all rights for the term of copyright which is 70 years after your death basically.

So unless you have a clause which specifically excludes audiobooks or you can negotiate that or there’s a right to version if they haven’t actually done it. Then you may not own your audio rights.

This is really a big deal in an age where, and we can move into the AI section, but as it becomes more and more easy and cheap to create multiple audio versions of your book, if you don’t own the rights to do that with your own work you will be very angry with yourself.

This is one of the interesting things with IP and copyright in general. A lot of people listening have been traditionally published and many have, for example, gotten their books into print in Australia because they didn’t license that right. So part of our job I think is educating people around intellectual property.

James Blatch: More and more stuff that we need to understand or be on top of. And ultimately probably pay some lawyers at some point as well, which his something we increasingly are doing in our business.

Joanna Penn: I was going to say if you’re actually going to publish people you better be on top of this stuff because this is why I deliberately do not publish people. The line between being a rights holder as a publisher and as an author there is a… You can actually see the conflict.

I have considered this myself and then looked at the contract and gone okay, my role as a publisher is to take as much as I can and my role as an author is to keep as much as I can and that’s why there is conflict between authors and publishers when it comes to the publishing industry.

And yes, we do need to understand these things in order to protect ourselves against the future. So, for example, I saw a contract the other week that said for all formats existing now and to be created in the future. I was like whoa, that is just mean.

James Blatch: Yeah, so if we start being able to transmit books between our thought patterns they’ll already have that.

Joanna Penn: Yes, we know Facebook’s working on that one.

James Blatch: Of course they are. This is all because partly J.K. Rowling who in the very early days of signing her contracts kept the eBooks because in those days eBooks were science fiction to the publishers and didn’t really see what was ahead in the future. That’s decision that earned her billions.

Joanna Penn: Yes, Pottermore.

James Blatch: It cost somebody in the publishing industry billions.

Joanna Penn: Oh, indeed. Pottermore, her company, is founded off the back of those eBook rights. I think that’s important.

But what I’d also want people to think about is audio-first creation. So we’re moving into this period where it’s not just about taking a book and then having it narrated. I’ve just listened to World War Zed, we say Zed.

James Blatch: Z, yeah.

Joanna Penn: The Americans listening would know it as World War Z. But the book, have you read the book?

James Blatch: I haven’t. I’ve seen the film but I haven’t read the book.

Joanna Penn: Yes, it was nothing like the film. The film is not like the book. The book is an oral history of the zombie war and each chapter is written from a different point of view. And the audiobook is superb.

I’ve read the book, seen the movie but the audiobook is another thing of beauty because every chapter is narrated by a different voice with a different accent which really just grounds you in this book. And it’s got me very excited around audio creation, especially with the potential of licensing AI voices that are human like.

If we can create these multi, well the things that people are downloading from Audible that are at the moment out of our reach as independent because it’s just too expensive. You come from the BBC. These productions are huge.

These actors are famous. But if you can license voices, if you can have easier tools to create I think we could be on the cusp as this audio boom of creation that goes way beyond just the narration of a straight book.

We already have it with a lot of people going off script or creating Audible original dramas and multicast things. I’m very excited to see where this goes and I want people to start considering hey, maybe that screenplay I’ve got in my drawer, like I have a few. Maybe I turn that into an audio drama or think about performance poetry. These types of things.

Kate Tempest, one of her audiobooks which should just be a performance poetry reading. It can be more than just the reading of your book. So I want to excite people around the creative possibility a well as the money obviously.

James Blatch: Of course.

If you turn your mind back to your fiction business are you thinking about audiobooks at the planning stage, the plotting stage of your book?

Joanna Penn: That’s a really good question because there’s two angles here.

Writing for audio is very different to writing for reading. One of the things that people say when you’re writing is oh, just use the word said, you know, said James, said Joe because the word said disappears to the reader and it does on a page, on a printed page or an eBook page we skip over said.

But in an audiobook that word appears over and over again and repeated sounds are the biggest issue with audio fiction that I have found both in my own work and also listening to other audiobooks. I’m like oh, that really needed editing for audio.

I think this is a gap in the market that I see coming is editing for audio because as I go through my own work I’m re-editing because I’m now reading it out loud. It’s fascinating the things that you don’t notice, your proofreader doesn’t notice that actually is not grammatically wrong or wrong in any way. It just sounds…

James Blatch: It doesn’t sound right.

Joanna Penn: It just sounds a bit off. And again, you know. You’re from this production area but it’s incredible once you begin to hear things you’re like oh, that would sound better if it was like this.

I think again this will be a renaissance for our writing beauty because it will make us more, not more literary. I don’t mean in that way. I just mean better for sound. And at the end of the day we’ve been oral storytellers for much longer than written storytellers so that’s why that’s exciting.

In terms of my own fiction I’ve narrated a couple of my short stories and for those I did re-edit completely. I mean dialogue, for example, I did read dialogue out loud in an edit but I didn’t perform it.

This is the training I’ve been having around performance of fiction and it’s just very exciting. I’m not saying that everyone should do this obviously and I may not even narrate my full length fiction books.

I’m still debating that because it’s such a big deal. But I think it’s a really good way to learn. I’m definitely looking at my screenplays. I’m definitely adapting some of my books into audio dramas.

For example, you can pitch Audible directly with an audio script. Plus I also know quite a few people within the BBC and things. The hunger for audio projects right now is huge so I think that’s another area that people could think about.

James Blatch: Going back a little bit to somebody getting their own book into an audio. They’re obviously now thinking about this edit and just yes, another mountain of editing that needs to go on. I’ll throw that in there.

I’m still curious about how you go about the production stage if you’re going to go, for instance with ACX and Findaway the way you are.

If you’ve gone into a share on one of those platforms is that audio production then yours to use elsewhere?

Joanna Penn: No, you can’t share on both platforms. You can only share on one. So if you go into ACX and do a royalty split deal you can’t put it on Findaway. It’s exclusive and vice versa.

James Blatch: The other thing is upfront payment if somebody were effectively they’re paid as a performer and copyright and everything. You’re not licensing that to anyone apart from when you do your…

Joanna Penn: If you do a royalty split deal with ACX you’re licensing it to ACX for exclusive rights for seven years and the royalty will be split between you and the narrator. For example, I’m just coming off of my first seven year contracts with people I did seven years go.

James Blatch: Okay.

Joanna Penn: And this year those books will then be assigned to me alone and I can come out of that contract and I can put those books wide as soon as they have finished that contract.

The other thing is that if you pay outright you can’t take it out of exclusive after a year. So there are lots of things that they are doing to make this easier I think.

James Blatch: How much does this cost if you’re going to do it upfront?

Joanna Penn: As long as a piece of string really because if you do royalty split it doesn’t cost you anything because the narrator is basically doing it for free in exchange for royalty share for seven years.

That royalty share is different on ACX than it is on Findaway. On Findaway you can also buy them out early so that also can be attractive.

James Blatch: Or forcibly buy them out early only if they agree.

Joanna Penn: Oh, if they agree or you’ve agreed a price upfront. Obviously the narrator wants to be paid for their time so this is the thing.

If you’re hiring a narrator outright, so I’ve just hired a German narrator for one of my German audiobooks. She’s 400 US dollars per finished hours of audio and it’s about 9,000 words per hour basically of audio. Usually the cost is between 200 and 600 US dollars per finished hour of audio.

But then, of course, if you do royalty split then that can be there. The problem with royalty split I would say at this point is that the top narrators have all the choice in the world so why would they work on your book?

It might be good to take a chance on a new narrator since presumably if you’re doing a royalty split you are a new author as I was seven years ago getting in.

It’s like I don’t know about this. I guess I’ll do a royalty split deal. Now I don’t. I pay outright.

But I think you can also do it yourself and obviously in my book Audio for Authors there’s lots of tips on how to do that. If you’re writing short nonfiction or short stories there’s really nothing stopping you except you and it will generally be because you’re uncomfortable with yourself or your voice in some way which you can get over if you are motivated.

And what the beauty is with owning it in that way is that a year later you can always rerecord it if you want to and re-upload it or you can get another edit done and do it again, another version.

I have an audio booth here in my room so I think once you learn to love it you can do all these different things. And then the cost is mastering. I don’t do my own mastering.

I do my own editing, which for me is just highlighting stuff and pressing delete with all the mistakes. Then I have a professional do the mastering. It’s a lot cheaper to do it yourself but obviously it takes time. You might have to hire a studio.

So I guess the point is there are lots of options. There are many, many, many, many options. What you have to consider as an author listening is it the right time for me to do audio and if you are a brand new author and you’re working on your first book and you haven’t sold any copies or maybe your book has just come out and it still hasn’t sold many copies and you’ve not even broken even then don’t even worry about it.

What I would do is say once you have some money to reinvest then consider audio. Or if you can do a royalty split deal then go for it. But what I don’t want to see is people saying Joanna Penn said I should do audiobooks when what I’m saying is it has to be at the right point in your journey to do this.

Audio for Authors I’m launching with eBook, paperback, large print, hardback, audiobook all at the same time. That’s five formats on launch day. Most authors don’t do that. Most traditionally published authors don’t do that. But that’s because I’ve been doing it a long time.

If you’re brand new then sure, start with the eBook, do your print on demand, paperback and then look audio down the track. Or if you’re doing short stories then give it a go because it won’t cost you much or you could do it yourself. So yes, does that make sense?

James Blatch: Yeah, it does. So the mastering process, I guess you go into detail in the books about this. For instance even if you’re not going to do it yourself.

Joanna Penn: I don’t because I outsource it.

James Blatch: Okay. Will you explain what it is when you say mastering. There’s the editing as you say, putting together, I did read once the sort of format they want putting together the chunks of audio in chapter format and then mastering. Is that filtering?

What happens with mastering?

Joanna Penn: Yes, so basically I can’t tell you the technical details but the services have a whole list of technical specifications that if you have to have the files with those technical specifications. And sound people will understand it.

Also, there’s a really good book if you want to do it yourself you can. There’s a really good book by M.L. Buchman, B – U – C – H, you know Matt Buchman. I think it’s called How to Narrate Your Audiobook or something like that. It’s his only one on audiobooks. He masters himself and that book contains the mastering stuff.

James Blatch: I definitely want to do the mastering myself. I love all that stuff.

Joanna Penn: Oh yeah. Well you come from this world. Personally I’m too busy starting on the next book and I think a lot of people might even feel that way around narration but I love the narration process.

The other thing with narration, let’s talk about it from a different perspective other than cost is relationship. So people listening to our voices, people know our voices if they listen to our podcasts, right. The same with audiobooks.

I’ve had a lot of comments from people who love listening to me read the audiobook because they know my voice. They want my voice to be the one reading my words and I love listening to authors who narrate their own audiobooks, particularly nonfiction.

Neil Gaiman is a classic. Scott Siglar who I just love. So there are authors who do this but it’s certainly a lot less in fiction than it is in nonfiction.

James Blatch: Many years ago a friend of mine who was a novelist asked me to narrate his audiobook, but then I think it worked out and there was another way of doing it and went on. But this was right in the infancy and he said to me you used to be on the BBC. Narrate my audiobook.

He gave me his first indie book, Black Mile. And I started to narrate it in my little booth at home and I felt very under confident about it because I can read the news and I can stand and do that because that’s a bit of acting really if you know what you’re talking about. I felt really under confident about doing voice and characters. Couldn’t do it. Didn’t want to do it.

Joanna Penn: Well, the interesting thing with this is there are two styles of reading fiction and one is to do voices and very few people do that well. Obviously Miriam Margoyles would be one of the greats.

James Blatch: Martin Jarvis I think does it.

Joanna Penn: Yeah, fantastic. But even most actors can’t do every accent. I write books with characters from all over the world and the moment you get one accent wrong the whole fictive dream falls apart. So there are people who specialize in voices and there are people who specialize in storytelling and that’s the kind of narrator that I’ve been learning to be which is you don’t do voices like this person is Irish. Now I try an Irish accent.

James Blatch: Or the other gender.

Joanna Penn: And this person’s American.

James Blatch: Your view because you were reading men’s voices and I was reading women’s voices again.

Joanna Penn: Yes, exactly. So what you do is when we read a book we don’t change the voice I our head depending on the character. This is the difference between an audiobook and say an audio drama which needs voices and is a production. This is a performance, yes, but the performance of the truth of the work.

So the short stories I’ve narrated, some of them are male characters and I’m reading them in my voice, but you should get the sense of a male character because of my writing. And that’s why audio really makes us better writers because you have to consider the future how people are going to consume it.

I would say if people listening are interested in doing fiction think about the storytelling angle rather than the accent angle because as you say that’s just going to kill it.

James Blatch: Yeah, which brings us on to the robots. According to future armour are going to kill all humans, but according to you are going to be our friends.

Are we getting to the point now where we can upload our Word document to a computer and a voice good enough for us to listen to will start narrating?

Joanna Penn: We are already there definitely. Obviously Amazon Polly is the Amazon product that you can plug into your website. Microsoft Baidu is the Chinese one takes 3.7 seconds of audio to clone a voice.

I know some people listening will doubt this but this technology gets better every single day and the number of voices, the number of dialects are increasing more and more and more. This is actually the last chapter of the book that I was editing right up to the wire because it was the last chapter I had to narrate for the audiobook and I was like oh, just one last thing because every day the news changes.

But basically there’s one angle which is yes, there are let’s say 50 voices that you can license from the Google cloud to do this type of thing.

The big issue with audiobooks is at the moment you cannot use an AI voice in your audiobook. So even though the technology is available, it’s not perfect and also the stores don’t allow it. But what we have is a number of companies right now so my voice double has been made by and if people are interested you can go to and hear some examples of my voice.

The aim being that within a couple of years you’ll be able to license voices so if you want me to read your audiobook you could license my voice or if people want your voice to read their book they could license your voice and we would get some kind of micropayment through the blockchain obviously.

James Blatch: I’ve got my bitcoin somewhere.

Joanna Penn: The other thing that is I think the potential is what I see as a consumer. I listen to a lot of business books and most of these business audiobooks are narrated by American men, American white male voices. And look, that’s fine but what if I would like an English white female voice or what if I want a Nigerian male?

What if I want an Indian voice? What if everybody wants their own dialect?

If we think that somebody connects with our work with the voice in their head, when they’re reading it they’re going to read it with the voice in their head, not our voice. So what I see is a future where a bit like Netflix right now. You can change the language.

James Blatch: A lot of drop down boxes going to come next to your book when you buy it and you choose.

Joanna Penn: Yes, because why shouldn’t someone be able to listen to your voice read my audiobook if I can license that. So as we speak I’m literally working right next to me here is the world intellectual property of this thing on AI and I’m writing notes about this. I’m like this is where this is going.

James Blatch: Wow.

Joanna Penn: The deep fake technology is bad and also good. This is the same technology so in December 2019 Samuel L. Jackson was the first voice synth to be used on the Alexa. I think someone like let me talk to Sam or something like that if you Google it.

James Blatch: Right.

Joanna Penn: That is not just recordings of his voice. It’s actually voice synth and that’s where I think we’re going.

What I see is a future where I could just narrate my audiobook or I could write my drama and then I could license these different voices and put them all together so that I can create audio dramas myself.

James Blatch: Wow.

Joanna Penn: I think that’s pretty exciting, but what is again interesting in Frankfort was the question was asked so will the publishing industry use AI voices and the English laws, the UK and the Americans were like no, definitely not. We’d never do that because we’ve got all these ex BBC people and we’ve got all these voice talents that can do it.

James Blatch: Is that the reason for the resistance? Protectionism of actors and performers.

Joanna Penn: Partly, but it’s a 60 year ecosystem that has developed. But the the lady from Latin America pipes up and said well, we’re interested because we have nothing. We have no ecosystem of audio. If we want all our books turned into all the dialects for all the Latin American countries…

James Blatch: They’re going to need it.

Joanna Penn: They need AI and it’s the same. Think about India, all the different languages that they have in India or just all the languages in the world. And the fact is in the British English and American English ecosystem for sure we have an established audio market and established voice talent.

But if you look at the explosion of content across the world, we want to have our work available in these other languages so yeah, very, very exciting times and I think this will also come together with the AI translation which is getting better and better.

All of this I think will come together. The question for everyone listening and for you guys is what do you own, back to IP, what do you own if you sign a contract for any kind of exclusivity for let’s say seven years.

What is going to change in seven years or if you’ve signed a contract for the term of copyright, 70 years after you die, what are you going to miss out on. If you sign it for all languages worldwide are you really selling books in all those markets.

So this is where I want people to think oh, she’s talking silly nonsense. They’ll be nothing like that for at least a decade. Well, I’m 45. I’m still intending to be here in a decade so signing something for the term of copyright is completely crazy obviously unless there’s a big payout and you can to write some other things.

But I just want people to consider what might be coming and if you think about the last decade of self-publishing what we didn’t know a decade ago is crazy and the ecosystem we didn’t have. I mean life has moved on.

James Blatch: Presumably at some point somebody is just going to have such a realistic synthesized voice and upload it and obviously they’ll have to be a breach of their contract but just to prove the fact that it’s as good as an actor and so it’ll become a scandal.

Joanna Penn: This has already happened with the Deepfakes. This is why this is a now thing. The Deepfakes of 2019 you can just Google it. Make sure you Google the right thing because there’s some naughty versions, but on Instagram there’s Donald Trump.

Mark Zuckerberg’s is hilarious because he’s like I own all your data and I’m going to do evil things with it. They’ve done Kim Kardashian. They did Boris Johnson praising Jeremy Corbin.

The Deepfakes have shown that the voice synth area is already there which is why the intellectual property office and things are looking at what do we do. Should we just ban it?

My opinion is you cannot ban this stuff. You have to license it. So the best thing to do is you and I, because our voice is out there, we could easily be Deepfaked right now.

But the fact is if we can license our voices maybe people will pay us to use them in the same way that having eBooks available on every single platform actually lessens the chance of being pirated because there’s no need to pirate if the work is already there for people to actually buy.

So this is why I’m so passionate about licensing and about allowing the use of creativity and technology to work together to make a very exciting feature.

James Blatch: That is exciting. So I could have my voice synthesizes and become a voiceover artist in a sort of far and forget method.

I just do the synthesizing once, have it all copyrighted and then hope that people choose my voice when they’re browsing through selections.

Joanna Penn: Exactly. And this is the thing so you and I like together right now we’re not competing for the same voice space. I’m who I am and you’re who you are and our voiceprint is very different. And so yes, people might choose you and me and Mark LaFavre had his voice double done. He’s a Canadian guy.

We can have all these different voices and then we can use them to create more things. I know some people feel very negative about this stuff and some people listening might feel this is bad, but in the last decade what I’ve seen is that we make a living from technology, the mesh of creativity and technology. So that’s why I see that we need more licensing, not more banning in order to make this good for everyone.

James Blatch: It’s always the case with technology developing when it takes the role, if it’s been a role of humans before. There’s always this period of adjustment and people instinctively don’t like it.

Actually the autonomous cars now. There’s a lot of resistance to them and the first person who was killed by an autonomous car and every time someone is in an accident in a autonomous car there’s outrage about it ignoring the fact that 3.5 thousand people are killed by humans in cars every year and we don’t bat an eyelid.

It is a case of adjusting, isn’t it?

Joanna Penn: It is, but also I just want to also add that there will still be room for human narration. What I see is a stratification of product in the same way that you might get a KU fiction book that you then give back that you borrow. Or you read the pages and then it goes back.

That’s different from buying a hardback that you want to keep on your shelf. Those are different things you do in different situations.

And in the same way I think a human narrated audiobook with all of the human side of that it could have a sticker on it like ‘human narrated’. That will be a premium product so it might be that there’s different versions. There might be a human narrated one and then maybe there’s an AI narrated one which is a 99 cent product as opposed to at $10 product.

I see that this, the audiobook like our eBooks and the print books and all the different formats we can do, the audiobook is going to split into these multiple products and that will hopefully bring us more revenue streams which is very exciting.

James Blatch: Brilliant. Well you better tell us a little bit about the book and where people can find it and the multitude of formats you’re releasing it in.

Joanna Penn: Yes, exactly. Well it’s available everywhere. Audio for Authors: Audiobooks, Podcasting and Voice Technology. So we talk mainly about audiobooks but actually a massive chunk of the book is about podcasting. Not just if you want to have your own podcast, but mostly if you want to get on podcasts and using podcasting for marketing. All the things that authors should be doing in a voice first area.

And to reach people like me basically you have to be in audio. Then the third section is about voice technology so voice assistance, optimizing for voice which has hit my website. I don’t know about yours but October 2019 the Google BERT algorithm change means that as much as one in 10 searches were impacted on the internet and it’s skewing towards voice search.

So this again was part of my 2019 sledgehammer over the head must deal with this stuff. And also the AI side and the future of voice. I talk about that as well. It’s available in all those formats in all the usual places.

James Blatch: Is it released now or is it in March?

Joanna Penn: The sixth of March 2020. And this is another little tip for audio production. We’re so used to just finishing the book and then uploading it but if you’re going to try and get the audio book at the same time you have to leave a bit of lead time. So we’re recording this a few weeks before that, but hopefully everything will be out the sixth of March 2020.

James Blatch: You can bring copies to Self-Publishing Show Live on the ninth of March and sign them.

Joanna Penn: I’m talking about something completely different. If this goes out before then I will be wearing another hat that day.

James Blatch: I know but people will want their signed copy although what you’ll sign I don’t know because it could be one of the many formats.

Look Jo, fantastic. It’s always absorbing talking to you. I’ve learnt huge. I’m going to browse the book now and in particular start thinking and planning about our own little expedition. A slight downside on our front and this will be for people who write science fiction and epic in particular is the word count is very high in the books that we’ve bought which does have an impact, does it not.

Joanna Penn: Oh, absolutely because of course if you think about that let’s say 400 US dollars per hour and you have a book that’s going to be 15 hours and you have six books. That’s a lot of investment.

That’s why again we might see far more books done with AI voices because it will just bring the cost down so much. Yeah again, libraries. I think people are going to be very excited about this when they realize what it means to the ability to create and consume content.

And look what we saw with books when we had eBooks. People started consuming five or 10 times as many books because it was available in this digital cheaper format. Exciting times ahead for all of us.

James Blatch: Definitely. I can see a method of process where you get the AI version of your book done, let that run for six months, build up some money and pay then for a human so maybe as a stopgap just to get going. Different experience. Brilliant. Fantastic. So much fun taking to you, Jo. And looking forward to seeing you in March.

Joanna Penn: Yes, thanks so much for having me.

James Blatch: There we go. Jo Penn, always invigorating to talk to Jo and she was full of beans at the conference a well as you’d expect. That book Audio for Authors, Joanna Penn, available on Amazon now and yes, you’re right.

You reminded me actually it wasn’t just about audiobooks. It was about all sorts of different ways that audio can be used and utilized for authors repurposing the story. All that effort you put in at the beginning to create that script.

And of course you’ll not like this bit, Mark but lots of talk about AI in that interview. I know you’re a skeptic of the robots or you’re scared of the robots. I don’t know which it is.

Mark Dawson: I’m not scared of them, but I am a bit, usually I think Joanna is about five years too early so I could be wrong on this. I think she was barely in translation, for example, I think she’ll tell you that she was a little early and I waited a bit before I went in. I could be completely wrong about it.

James Blatch: She might be ahead of the game. Who knows.

Mark Dawson: She might be.

James Blatch: Anyway, she was talking in the interview about you can have your voice synthesized on a computer and then the computer can read your book so in your voice or you can, she predicts the day when Liam Neeson will have his voice synthesized and you can license Liam Neeson’s voice to read your book not too far away. And that will make the whole process of audiobooks a whole different ballgame.

Mark Dawson: If we could license Alan Partridge’s voice I wouldn’t need you anymore.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: That would be excellent. I’m going to look into that. Note to self.

James Blatch: Aha.

Mark Dawson: Synthesize Partridge.

James Blatch: There must be people living in Oklahoma…

Mark Dawson: Who don’t know Alan Partridge.

James Blatch: WHo have no idea who Alan Partridge is.

Mark Dawson: Oh, absolutely. Definitely but they’re lucky. There’ll be people who come up to us at the conference and say thank you very much for introducing Partridge, monkey tennis.

James Blatch: Monkey tennis. If you’ve seen the Stan and Ollie film, the Laural and Hardy film with John C. Reilly. The man playing Stan Laurel is Steve Coogan who plays Alan Partridge so you have to follow it back from there. That’s a wonderful film by the way if you’re looking for films to watch.

Well that’s it for this episode. You can go off and read that Jo Penn book. You can take to heart what we’re talking to you about at the moment which is not to be too downhearted bout the very unsettling and difficult times that we’re going through and trying to keep steady, keep focused on your future.

Control the things that you can control and try not to be too anxious about the things that we don’t have control about. I know, easier said than done but still good advice.

Mark, I could see you started to look at your phone now. It’s that sort of time. And don’t forget from where we’re speaking now it’s Mother’s Day in a couple of days.

Mark Dawson: Yes, I’ve got to go and, yes, of course my kids can’t get to the shop so if I don’t go and get a Mother’s Day card Lucy won’t get one and then I’ll be in the doghouse so yep, need to go do that.

James Blatch: I’m in isolation.

Mark Dawson: I’m risking infection.

James Blatch: That’s how much you love her.

Mark Dawson: I love my family. I’m risking infection for a Mother’s Day card.

James Blatch: Good, well hopefully it’s not a very final one but I’m going to say that it’s a goodbye from him.

Mark Dawson: And a goodbye from me. Goodbye.

James Blatch: Goodbye.

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