SPS-239: Topping the Charts with Children’s Fiction – with Karen Inglis

Children’s authors can use many of the same strategies that those who write for adults do. Karen Inglis shares the strategies which have created more than a full-time income for her.

Show Notes

  • Writing and publishing to encourage a child to read
  • Dealing with illustrations when formatting ebooks and print
  • On the game-changer advertising became for Karen
  • Selling foreign rights as an additional stream of income
  • Also independently translating into different languages
  • Thoughts on whether being in brick and mortar bookshops is worth it

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page

NEW COURSE: Join the waitlist for the upcoming How to Revise Your Book course.

WEBSITE: Karen’s site for children’s authors on self-publishing and marketing

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

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

SPS-239: Topping the Charts with Children’s Fiction – with Karen Inglis

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

Karen Inglis: I just made a decision there and then. I wasn't going to try and get an agent. I didn't think there were any children's authors self-publishing in the UK at the time, nobody British. So I was very much on my own.

Narrator: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers, no more barriers, no one standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing?

Join indie bestseller, Mark Dawson, and first-time author, James Blatch, as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success. This is the Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Hello. It is the Self-Publishing Show with me, James Blatch.

Mark Dawson: And me, Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: You're very loud in my ears. Let me turn that down. Is my air conditioning loud? Actually, I've got a really quiet air conditioning unit. There's only seven air conditioning units in the whole of the UK. We don't really do air conditioning. Yes, it's a whisper. What is the t-shirt, for people watching on YouTube?

Now, let me guess, being you, I'm going to say, it's something to do with a comic book.

Mark Dawson: No. It's the Karate Kid from the '80s. It's Cobra Kai.

James Blatch: I forget how old you are.

Mark Dawson: I'm younger than you.

James Blatch: I barely remember the Karate Kid, but then I was out playing and doing healthy things. You were stuck inside, but then you were in Lowestoft, so. Good, well.

Let's say a very warm welcome to the podcast and the Self Publishing Show to our supporters on Patreon. We have some shout-outs to do. You can be shouted-out at, on this very show if you go to Patreon.com/SelfPublishingShow. This week, we are welcoming to our family, into the bosom of our family, Tanya Frye from Missouri, United States of America, Tracey Elliot and Jack F. Erickson, which sounds like a great author name, Jack F. Erickson. Did you ever think about having a middle initial? M.J. Dawson?

Mark Dawson: I've got a middle initial-

James Blatch: I know.

Mark Dawson: ... I just decided not to use it.

James Blatch: M.J. Dawson does actually sound quite good. Did you think about it?

Mark Dawson: No. Never caught on. If I was going to write something... Actually for the kind of SPF books that we've done, I am M.J. Dawson for that, aren't I, because-

James Blatch: I thought you were Mark J. Dawson.

Mark Dawson: Mark J. Dawson, yeah, because we didn't want to mess the also-boughts up for any of the books, so wanted to be a bit separate on that one. But yeah, I never thought about it for any of my own books. I decided there's only one Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: There's only one. As I say on the terraces-

Mark Dawson: Actually, there's lots. Actually, there is another one. There's a guy, he's a Professor Mark Dawson who has written a book on a fairly unusual aspect of European law and I've seen some reviews on his book saying that this is a real change in direction from-

James Blatch: From an MI6.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, the poor guy probably is a little confused about that.

James Blatch: I think John Logsdon has this problem. John Logsdon who was an early guest on the... Has John actually been on the podcast? He must have been at some point. I'm sure he has. I think, he was on with his friend when they started up ReaderLinks. But John, who we know well, lives in the Carolinas in the U.S. If you look up John Logsdon, there's actually quite a notable other John Logsdon who's also a professor, but he's not obscure. I think, he's a spaceman but that must be, I don't know. I guess if you're, I mean, he does write science fiction, John, but you do have to do a little bit of due diligence and just because it's your name, doesn't mean you can use it, which is an odd thing to say. But that is the case.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, you want to be looking into that. Wasn't there a Stephen King with a PH or no, with a V that was... May have had to change his name I think, because of confusion between one or the other.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: I've never noticed another writer, at least one that would be confused with me writing in my genre. So you're safe. There are no other Blatch's in the world-

James Blatch: There is another James Blatch but and he is writing a book. So we have been in touch because we used to, in the early days of email, and I have Blatch.com. I have that domain and I used to get emails for him and emails that were destined for him would say something like, "Fantastic workout on Tuesday morning on my abs. I was wondering if we could move down to quads on Thursday." And it turns out he's a bodybuilder in Sydney, Australia.

Mark Dawson: Is that right? That he's a bodybuilder, okay.

James Blatch: He's a big bodybuilder and we were in touch a little bit and sort of laughed about having, he's James Blatch on Facebook. I'm James Blatch. We got a little bit of confusion here and there. It doesn't happen so much anymore especially since he was arrested for drug supply in his gyms and went to prison.

I followed all of this and I sent him little notes every now and again because it looked to me, I do think he had a very tough side of the deal there. I think, he was badly advised and anyway this is another story. For legal reasons probably can't go into it but he's served his time. He's come out. He's now doing quite a lot of reform type talking and writing and he wants to put it all down into a book. He wasn't supplying recreational drugs. This was steroids type stuff that was being used in his gym.

I think he knows he made some mistakes but he's come out of it. So he wants to self-publish. He's looking at the whole process of writing and so yeah. I can't imagine there's a lot of crossover because I mean, obviously when people look at me, they see, as you mentioned last week, an Adonis but I don't know if they think I'm-

Mark Dawson: I was actually going to say, there's not much chance of steroid supplying. I have to be careful about what I say there.

James Blatch: Well, he has been to prison for it.

Mark Dawson: I suppose so, yeah. Well, I think, you're probably okay. I don't think there's going to be that much crossover there.

James Blatch: I've a fondness for James and his attitude to life. So he's been through the mill and I can't only imagine what prison is like for... Well, I can't even imagine what prison is like and to come out of that and grow. So, good luck, James and let us know when your book is published.

Yes, but if your name is McDonald and you want to start a burger restaurant you're in trouble. Just because it's your name, is the kind of point I'm making here. You have to do some due diligence.

Right, we are talking about somebody who has a fairly unusual surname, which is Karen Inglis. It's spelled, Inglis, a Scottish surname. Now, Karen, we've mentioned from time to time and we're going to be talking about children's books. So I'm just going to flag that up ahead of the interview because we do get asked a lot about whether it's possible to self-publish children's books commercially and be successful with it and so on.

Karen is walking, breathing, living proof that, that is possible. Now, before then, we want to mention we have a brand new course, which is in the late stages of gestation. Should we say it's in the third trimester, Mark, do you think, the How to Revise Your Book Course?

Mark Dawson: Yeah. It's not a normal gestation. This is kind of like an elephant gestation period.

James Blatch: Like my book.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, almost as long as your book. It's been a couple of years in the making but not quite that long. But yes, it is coming soon.

James Blatch: I'm editing it together now. It looks and feels unlike other courses we've done because Jenny Nash who's a fantastic editor, brilliantly has put this course together. She appears in person to give you a nice warm fuzzy overview of what's going to happen, spells everything out and then you get into the detail. Some of the sessions are so far, they're sort of 35, 40 minutes long. They're quite detailed. Some are quite short and pithy but it's a really nicely laid out course.

Mark Dawson: I think, before you go on, we should probably say what the course is called and what it does because we haven't done that yet.

James Blatch: Okay, it's about editing a book. It's actually about revising your book. So that's a key part of this. So it's basically after your first draft, how you go about the process, revising that to produce your second draft, which is the one probably that will go to copyedit and so on. I mean, depending on how many drafts you do. If you're in my world, you do about three or four of them.

But this how to break down that first draft and I think the tagline we're going to use in marketing this course is, How to Go from Good to Great. So this is about really elevating your book up to great, identifying those problems, identifying and there's lots of methods she talks about.

The Stoplight Method is one of them, which is traffic lights in the UK. So the red bits that need, absolutely show stoppers and the green bits or the amber bits I suppose, which are... Do they have amber lights in America? I think they have amber lights. We have amber between the-

Mark Dawson: Yeah.

James Blatch: ... yeah, the ones that need fixing and how to go about that process. So how to identify it and how to go about it with lots of little processes to help you along.

Now, we haven't got to the stage of pricing this up or anything yet. We nearly always, and I'm sure we will do this, have a very good discount in the first month to give it a good boost, which worked really well for The Best Seller Course because lots of people who were waiting for it got it at a great price there and then. It's still doing very well, The Best Seller course, I should say, up to full price now.

We will do the same thing with, The Revise course. So if you're interested in it, you can go to SelfPublishingFormula.com/Revise, R-E-V-I-S-E. So there will either be a wait-list page there or when the course launches that will be the place to go, read all about it and decide whether you want to sign up or not.

I guess, we will also sort out our webinar. We'll get Jenny onto our webinar and we'll teach some of that process. We'll choose one area and really go into detail that will be useful for you, regardless of whether you're going to get the course or not. We always want our webinars to be very useful to people because we appreciate your time.

Good, so let me just ask you, we will do a session. We'll perhaps get Jenny back onto the podcast ahead of our next book lab just to talk about the revision process. I think that would be a good idea anyway.

What is your process at the moment, Mark? I know if someone asks you this you say, "Well, I'm quite used to it now. I know everything I'm doing. I just write a draft and I send it to my friend and it's done." You always make it sound really easy, but there must be, from a first idea and writing you do, to the final publication a process you go through.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, there's a process but I've done it so many times now that it's rote, really. I've just done it, just finished a book and well, it's going to be out next week. So I, what did I do this time?

The book gets finished. It goes to my copyeditor, Jennifer. Jennifer copyedits it. It comes back to me. It then goes to the beta readers. So I think, I had about 300 downloads this time out of five or 600 people who got the email. They come back with their comments and they're always amazing. So I mean, and really varied. There's a scene in the new book, which I tweaked this morning where Milton creates some, it's kind of like, Home Alone with live ammunition.

James Blatch: Cool.

Mark Dawson: So he does some booby traps and there's a fuel bomb. So you have a big tank of gasoline and some dynamite underneath the tank and the dynamite explodes and the petrol or gasoline ignites. One of my readers, I didn't know this, but he went into so much detail. It was really useful. He has an army background, I think, in probably something to do with bomb disposal and he suggested that the gasoline wouldn't normally ignite with that kind of ignition. So what you needed to do was, it needs a thickening agent but I shouldn't say this on a live podcast.

James Blatch: Yeah, give it some more detail.

Mark Dawson: You need to use something to thicken it up and then you need to add something else, which acts as ignition agent. I won't say what that is, although, I just realised I have put it in the book. So it's not the kind of thing that you would know to Google and you probably wouldn't want to Google it anyway so that was great.

Another thing, there's a large revolver called a Peacemaker and I had it in a pocket and that guy said to me, "I have a Peacemaker. I took it out and tested it to see. It weighs two pounds. It won't go in a pocket. So you have to cinch it with your belt." So all that kind of stuff is really helpful.

That's all done so this is not so much the actual, I mean, Jenny, is talking more about structure and character and developing those kinds of aspects. This for me, I think, I've got that down now. I think, you usually need to deal with anything in that because I've written so much but the detail that this picks up is kind of factual errors, also typos. Everyone will pick up typos that slip through the professional process and there was a couple I did this morning actually kind of late submissions from readers who'd seen things that the other 200 and 300 hadn't.

James Blatch: Yeah, wow.

Mark Dawson: So it just goes to show you some people see one thing others don't and so that's get to that stage and it goes to my proofreader who picks up to make sure that I haven't introduced any new errors in the edits, which is possible and then comes back to me and then it's good to go. That's the process for me now.

James Blatch: Jenny's course is definitely about development rather than copyedits and so on. It's about getting the story so that people want to turn the page so the book works in that sort of editorial language.

Actually, one of the things we're going to do, I don't know if it will be ready for launch. I don't want to delay the launch anymore but hopefully, it will be ready, but people will get it if they purchase the course anyway, is ProWritingAid. We've had a couple of conversations with recently are going to put together a mini course on how to use ProWritingAid to pick up a lot of the things you're talking about, which is not just typos, the ProWritingAid. It's also about using more efficient language and cutting down on the adverbs et cetera.

So we'll put that course, we'll bundle that with, How to Revise. So that's the next stage. Jenny doesn't do typos. This is about whether your character works. You don't have to worry about that, at that stage of the process.

Okay, good. So yeah, SelfPublishingFormula.com/Revise if you want to learn all about that and as I say, as I think, about this, we make it up as we go along, but I think, about this, we will get Jenny onto a podcast so we can spend a good 40 minutes talking about this process that I think will be very useful.

Our interviewee this week is Karen Inglis and she is someone we met for the first time at the London Book Fair maybe three or four years ago. We've kept in touch when she appeared on a panel of the Self Publishing Show live, in London and she is commercially successful. She's a self-publisher.

She's one of those people who's just got it right using Amazon ads, finding sales, making life changing amounts of money that just make a difference to her and her family's life and she's doing it all through writing children's books, which is a little bit unusual and a question we get asked a lot. So let's find out how she did it. Here's Karen.

Karen Inglis, welcome to the Self Publishing Show. Did I pronounce your surname correctly?

Karen Inglis: You did. You've become a real expert.

James Blatch: You ticked me off and now, I'm the one who ticks other people off who always say, Inglis. I guess, everyone says, Inglis.

Karen Inglis: It's just such a pain, especially if you're booking restaurants because you say, Inglis and they write ES and then you say, "No, it's Inglis." And they say, "Oh, English." No, that's why I usually just say, I-N-G-L-I-S.

James Blatch: Of course, we passed through Inglis in I think-

Karen Inglis: Oh, yeah. You were in the States.

James Blatch: ... Louisiana or somewhere. I think, it was Inglis, Louisiana or North Florida and it was a one-horse town. I have to tell you, Karen, if that's in your extended family and you're going to inherit it, it's going to be a bit like Schitt's Creek, if you've seen that sitcom.

Karen Inglis: Then it must have come from Scotland, yeah.

James Blatch: But you're in London now, and you are an author and you write children's books. You've also I think, done a women's fiction novel I think-

Karen Inglis: Not a women's. No, I've done a nonfiction book, How to Self-Publish and Market a Children's Book.

James Blatch: Excellent. Okay, well then let's go through a little bit of that.

Did it start with the children's books for you?

Karen Inglis: Oh, gosh yes. I've not done any adult writing other than when I was a student and that's all in a drawer somewhere. Yes, yes.

I started writing children's books when our children were little, sort of two, three and I was reading books to them and some of them I thought were great and some obviously not so great. So I started mucking around with the idea of a fox story after a fox and it went from there. Then I have that moment where I walked into some friend's gardens who'd just moved to Notting Hill and they had a communal garden at the back of their apartment and I was very jealous. It was just so magical and that was the moment that the idea for The Secret Lake came to me.

But that was a long, long time ago. That was back in the early to mid '90s. It's a long time ago and so I started drafting then. But it was one of those things in the olden days where you send everything off in an envelope and it comes back six weeks later because there was no... You couldn't do it by internet in those days. It all ended up in a box, which is down there in my office for 10 years. Went away and I went back to my day job of writing because the kids had got a bit older. It was when I took a sabbatical in 2010, end of 2010 and I thought I'll get that writing out again.

Then I just thought, actually this is good and particularly, The Secret Lake. I thought, this is a good story and so I worked with a friend who is an editor, just to knock it into a bit better shape and then discovered that self-publishing was happening. I just made a decision there and then, I wasn't going to try and get an agent.

I don't think there were any children's authors self-publishing in the UK at the time. There was just, I knew of Joanna obviously being adult but nobody British. So I was very much on my own. I used to spend hours in the Createspace forums chatting with gurus on formatting and God knows what.

James Blatch: I was going to say, illustrations are so important in children's books and when you write the book at the beginning presumably you're just doing the writing.

Had you been picked up traditionally they would have matched you with an illustrator or did you present the whole thing?

Karen Inglis: Well, no, because, The Secret Lake, which is the one over there, the green one you can see behind me, I don't know if you can but-

James Blatch: I can. If you're watching on YouTube you can see that.

Karen Inglis: Yeah, The Secret Lake is a chapter book in the sense. It doesn't have any illustrations inside it. It's what they call a middle grade novel. So it would be a bit like if you bought Harry Potter, there's no pictures inside it.

James Blatch: Gotcha.

Karen Inglis: I might make a special edition actually now, but so that never was. But no, in answer to your question if you are writing a book that does have illustrations and you can see again behind me there's some black and white illustrations there from, Eeek! The Runaway Alien and Walter Brown.

Now, if you were going to a traditional publishing you wouldn't be submitting anything like that. You would just send the manuscript and they like to take care of images. Similarly, if you were even doing a picture book that's the wisdom that they're not interested in you sending pictures because they like to match you with their own artists.

James Blatch: I was trying to think, so in my childhood I mean, I think, children's books I have to say, have got better since I was a child. A lot of, Enid Blyton who, I know this is blasphemy but I came to loathe when my children were little, reading Enid Blyton to them. But I seem to remember loving it when I was a child. But anyway, they were all I guess, what you described, middle grade novels because they were novels without illustrations, whereas, today, my son reads and I'm trying to remember his name, Tom somebody.

Karen Inglis: Tom Gates?

James Blatch: Tom Gates. Now, Tom Gates got my son into reading. He's fallen out of reading a bit now again, but they were a real, and David Williams probably fits into this category, a real mishmash of illustration and writing.

But then I saw your little hunch there at David Williams. He gets a bad press at the moment but lots of kids love his books.

Karen Inglis: I have never read any of his books to be honest and he has had quite a bad Twitter storm just recently. I don't know if you noticed that. I haven't read any of his but I am, I do agree.

You can't be a snob about anything that makes kids read, is good as far as I'm concerned and funny enough, Eeek! back there, The Runaway Alien, I wrote because George our older son, the one who's now a lawyer, just wouldn't read and he was just interested in football. And I thought, well, how can I get him to read?

I came up with this story of an alien who runs away from space to earth because he loves football and the World Cup's on and I put illustration. I decided this was going to have black and white illustrations throughout it so, and that has had very good feedback from schools and reading charities because it gets kids reading.

So I can't rejudge David Williams' novels because I haven't read them. I suppose one feels slightly frustrated that every chart you open, he's number one on it in whatever he puts out.

James Blatch: Yeah, so is J.K. Rowling and every Amazon chart I ever open. I was just thinking about the illustration side of things and that is a more complicated process I guess when you're self-publishing. So when you decided to do the alien book, you had already gone down the self-publishing route at that point.

So even though it was going to be a book heavy on illustrations, you were working out how to do that as a self-publisher?

Karen Inglis: Yeah, I was and I very much taught myself, really. I'd found an illustrator for the front cover because that front cover I tried to draw, well, I have two very artistic sisters and both had promised they would draw me an alien and never did. So I thought, well, I'll have a go and I used Microsoft's Paint and actually funnily enough the final front cover, I'm just going to quickly pick up a copy to show you.

James Blatch: Sure.

Karen Inglis: The final front cover... So actually this is one of the proof copies. The final front cover for it, which you can sort of see there. That was the one from the latest proof run. I actually drew this alien, would you believe?

James Blatch: Did you?

Karen Inglis: I'm not an artist. I went onto Microsoft Paint and I'm left handed and I use a mouse with my right hand for some bizarre reason. I worked out how to try and draw this alien but he looked absolutely... Again, it was exact but it had all black lines around it and no depth to it and no shadow that you can see there. So I went online, long story short and ended up just Googling and ended up on that website that at the time was called Elance. It's now called something else. I've forgotten the name, Upworks it's called now.

James Blatch: Oh, yes, Upwork.

Karen Inglis: Yeah, and that's where I found Damir Kundalic, who became my illustrator for all of those books and then he basically fixed him for me. Then, throughout the book we've got these things but what I tended to do was I would send him little stick drawings and then say, "Look, can you... This is what I imagine, can you make it into a illustration?"

What was very interesting was mapping out where that then fit in the book, having to put the pieces of paper all along the kitchen table and actually when you're reading it you get a sense of all right, if I was a kid who didn't like reading I probably right now would be getting bored because there's not a picture.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Karen Inglis: It was kind of a bit like that and to begin with it was very... The first time I did it, I was using somebody over in the States, a great guy called Doug for doing all the formatting. Now, I have Vellum, which as we all know is just amazing and so when I had, when I did the latest, when... I can't remember. I must have done an update or I did the eBook, I can't remember, it was so easy to drop in the pictures and reflow it all and even for the print book when I wanted to update the back, that was it. I can now do that myself. While I was in there, I was able to move a few things around and it wasn't a problem.

James Blatch: Vellum does make everything a pleasurable pleasure to work on.

Karen Inglis: I've now moved on to something different. This one here, this is literally just come out, literally, literally. This is called, The Tell-Me Tree and this in the last two picture books I've done, I've used a friend who I didn't know could illustrate children's books. She's our architect and I've known her for 25, 30 years and she's always made cards and beautiful things, but I never thought to say, "Can you illustrate children's stories?" But she sort of does this sort of thing. She's absolutely amazing.

James Blatch: That is wonderful.

Karen Inglis: And the difference there is she does not work digitally. She doesn't work digitally. She works pen and ink so that's been another new learning curve as to that-

James Blatch: So scan them in, do you?

Karen Inglis: ... they have to be scanned in and what I do now, for all of my colour picture books now, I work with Anne and then I use a layout artist as well, because I can't layout. I know the story and I worked up which pages I want the story to go on and for this one we pretty much worked the flow but I used someone called Rachel Lawston who's done my last few books for layout.

James Blatch: Amazing.

Karen Inglis: And she does a lot of traditional publishing stuff.

James Blatch: Just technical question, when you scan them in, is that some sort of specialised professional scan or just the kind of scanners we have in our home printers?

Karen Inglis: I don't know. I haven't seen Anne's scanner but I think, it's just something you would have at home. I know as an architect she's got it. I think you can choose when you scan or whether your scan goes up to either 600 dpi or whatever it is. It's slightly out of my knowledge thing but I know that's what Rachel needed then in order then bring that all into Illustrator and do the layouts in the Photoshop or whatever.

James Blatch: And you sell both the eBook and the print versions of all your books because some of these obviously would work a lot better as print books I'd imagine.

Karen Inglis: I sell all of them in both formats but I sell 95% or more of all of my book sales are print.

Again, just coming back to the Vellum thing, as far as the middle grade novels and the chapter books go, that's much more doable these days because of Vellum because it's so much easier just to take the checks, push it into Vellum and off you go, whereas, the olden days it was oh, I can't even... It's a nightmare remembering it.

But also, what's happened with the picture books now, which I'm really pleased about is when you want a picture book, you can't do that thing of having flowable text. So you know if on an iPad or something or you're on your Kindle and you're reading you can change the size of the font and all that stuff. You can get away with having one and that's called reflowable. You can get away with that with a chapter book with things like Eeek! The Runaway Alien. So the kids pick a larger typeface and it might be that one of the images will then move onto the next page. Do you see what I mean?

James Blatch: Yeah.

Karen Inglis: Sometimes you end up that they'll just be a gap below the image because somehow it senses the next paragraph. And that, I think, people are used to that. They're used to the fact that, whereas, in a print book you're never going to have a big gap there. It's not the end of the chapter. That might occasionally happen with one of those. So that's fine for Kindle but you can't do it with a book like this because many of the pages rely on the double page spread. Do you see what I mean?

James Blatch: Yes.

Karen Inglis: So if you then enlarge it and this all got separated that doesn't work and so the only way around that in the olden days was, I said the olden days, oh, my. I did for Ferdinand Fox use, and they're very good, like a company called eBook Partnership and there are others and they, you can, Kindle and eBook Apple and all that, you have to have a fixed layout ePub it's called or fixed layout file, which means that it will never, it will keep everything together no matter what you do and just getting a format like that's quite complicated.

Now, what's happened is in the last couple of years is that Kindle Direct Publishing has come up with some software. Well, it's been around for a while but when I first tested it a few years ago it was a nightmare. But it is hugely improved, I discovered this time last year when, The Christmas Tree Wish came out, my picture book that's over there. It's free and it's very easy to upload your print ready PDF and it retains in all and then you can just add in what's called popup text, which means that obviously not many people will be reading picture books on these things but some grandparents might with their kids on an iPad or something. It just could be that sometimes the text might be hard to read and so what they've got is a thing where you tap it and the text gets bigger and you have to put that in yourself.

James Blatch: Okay.

Karen Inglis: So if anyone wants to look at it, if they go to my author website selfpublishingadventures.com and click on the blog thing, my latest and one of my rare blog posts because I'm so useless. But it does show examples of how that works.

James Blatch: We'll put these links into the show notes so people can find them.

Karen Inglis: It's just become a lot easier to do that and the reason probably sort of related to your question, the reason I do the Kindle books is not because I know I'm going to sell many but it's another opportunity for marketing because you've got obviously Amazon advertising you can advertise both instances of your book. So it's another opportunity for that.

Then also if you want to you can use the five free days if you're in KDP Select, which I am to make it free, to maybe encourage early reviews and I will be doing that for this one I just haven't got round to it yet because it's only just gone live.

James Blatch: Okay, well, let's talk about sales and marketing and your results because we do get asked a lot. Mark teaches what he teaches and he writes thrillers and a lot of the students who are sort of high-profile in our community are genre fiction writers and so people who write nonfiction and children's books and one or two of those other areas come to us quite often and say, "Does this stuff," in general terms, not just what Mark does, "self publishing work for children's authors?" And you're a name we quote to people and say, "Yes, it can work."

So I think the bottom line here is this has been a successful commercial venture for you.

Karen Inglis: Oh, definitely and Amazon advertising was a game changer. The Secret Lake was selling incredibly well but only as much as I could almost do school visits and a bit of my own social media until the end of 2017 really. It was when Amazon UK advertising came, I managed to get into the Advantage Programme and we had an interview didn't we?

James Blatch: Yeah.

Karen Inglis: At the London Book Fair and I remember saying to you, "Oh, my sales are suddenly going up. Hmm." That was a game changer and I think, knowing how to run those ads is really important now because as we all know, it's sort of pay-to-play now. To get that visibility, you do need to be doing some advertising and if you've got a good book then you've got as good a chance as anybody else. It does comes down to having a good story. The Secret Lake has sold over 200,000 copies now.

James Blatch: Wow.

Karen Inglis: I just checked before we came on just to see what it was so I've written it down. So in the USA it's around 151 in all print books today.

James Blatch: Wow.

Karen Inglis: And they're not just children's. In the UK, 117 and in Canada 62. But I think, although advertising obviously, has really helped give it visibility, it is a very special story. I don't think because all my other books aren't selling that well, do you know what I mean? So it's not, there has to be something good about the story as well.

James Blatch: The Secret Lake has been your most successful book commercially?

Karen Inglis: Yes.

James Blatch: But why then do you produce the other picture books and not do another Secret Lake style?

Karen Inglis: Because, I always write stories that come to me. I can't say, "Oh, I'm going to write a story about this." It just doesn't somehow work and there's always, just at the time I might be thinking, oh, well should I see if I could come up with a sequel for, The Secret Lake, which I get asked a lot, there's some other story thing going on in my mind, which I need to just get out of the way, if you like.

I mean, don't get me wrong, things like, The Christmas Tree Wish, the picture book came out last Christmas and it sold in the UK I think, 1500 copies in a space of a very short space of time and that was starting off with no reviews.

Now, we've got Christmas coming around, I expect it to do better and it got Best Seller Badge in France. It sold far fewer there but because I had it translated into French. So it does, the other ones, don't get me wrong, it doesn't have to be as good as The Secret Lake for you to make money. My books are in profit on those Amazon ads, all of them but they just aren't selling in those huge, huge numbers I mean, as The Secret Lake. That's an exception.

James Blatch: Yeah, it all adds up. I wanted to ask you a little bit about the margins because when, so we're now marketing, for Fuse Books, our series and I do notice as people do when they upload and create their products on KDP that the margins on print are, well, to have a decent margin, to make a decent amount the print book does get quite expensive doesn't it?

Karen Inglis: Well, I mean, I sell The Secret Lake in the UK for 6.99. I've got the chart here actually. It tells me what my royalty is. Yeah, I've got this chart inverted because when you're doing your Amazon ads and you've got to work out, I have to assess what the A cost is and I can't remember because of course I'm print, which makes it even more complicated.

James Blatch: They're about to separate them out aren't they? I got an email this morning-

Karen Inglis: They have. They have and it's a bloody nightmare. I'll tell you, I've had a few conversations actually with Janet Margo in the Facebook groups about this and I've yet to go in and really see what I'm going to do about it. But no, so in the UK I sell for 6.99 and on the royalty I get, if it's selling at the full price I'll get, well, I always get the same royalty, £2 pounds 27. So yeah. And USA if it sells at 7.99 I get a royalty of $2 dollars 48. I mean, I don't know whether...

James Blatch: So that's surprised me a little bit just because they often end up and I guess, it's the number of pages in a paperback. You often end up having to sell paperbacks at $15 dollars, $16 dollars to try and make one or two dollars on them but then, the books I'm marketing are very long about 130,000 words so that's probably the reason.

Karen Inglis: Oh, yes. No, I'm on 22 and a half 1000 words, 23,000 words. So it's different in that sense children's books there's a slight advantage I suppose.

James Blatch: So print costs are lower.

Karen Inglis: The downside is that you haven't got your customer on end of the line. You're having to get through the gatekeepers, which are the parents and all that stuff so that's just you win some, you lose some.

James Blatch: Yeah, so let's talk about that a bit then. So you use Amazon ads.

Do you use Facebook ads at all?

Karen Inglis: No, I keep meaning to go back and have another go but every time I do, it just takes a load of my money and also to be honest, I should go back and try for The Secret Lake, particularly for cases like Australia because I think, it's starting to sell over there now, but there's no way to advertise on Amazon in Australia as far as I'm aware. So I could probably target there but I've got, I'm so busy trying to monitor everything going on and do the... I've just finished doing this and now, I'm doing translations and I've been doing foreign rights deals so I think.

If I was going to do Facebook advertising I would need to really clear my decks for two weeks and go back in because I know, I saw your updated module. I did watch it while I was in the gym if you remember what they are, a few months ago, on your updated module on Facebook marketing and the fact that they've now got that Creative Studio where you can go in and-

James Blatch: Creative Hub, yeah-

Karen Inglis: Creative Hub yeah. And you look fantastic in it. I was, "Oh, I must go and try it."

James Blatch: ... which is great. Yeah, I love the Creative Hub.

Karen Inglis: So it is something I need to go back and try when Amazon stops mucking around doing things like what it's just done now, which I have to get my head around.

James Blatch: Well, they'll be more. There's more changes to come. I think the changes gradually will make the platform better and I suspect, don't quote me on this, but I suspect they moved to separating out attribution on Amazon is a forerunner to paid reads coming in because they're trying to work out how to do that and that is imminent-ish this year, hopefully.

Karen Inglis: Yes, because the problem I have at the moment with this thing that they've just brought in is that so I advertise over in America, I have a couple of more two ads for The Secret Lake, which have custom text underneath, which is really useful for children's books in particular. They perform well but traditionally, what they've done is they've had lots of clicks and then the sales figure's very high but when you looked at them they were actually nearly all paperbacks they were selling. So I could tell it was all okay.

The A cost was around 22% or something. I've got my break-even thing here. I can look at it in a glance but what's happened now, as I look at them, it's showing I don't know, 64 clicks, eight sales and an A cost of 250,000-

James Blatch: Which is still profitable probably.

Karen Inglis: But at the moment I can't work out other than-

James Blatch: Right, it's complicated.

Karen Inglis: ... but what I'm going to do. Yeah, I've got a big spreadsheet, which once a month I'll have a look at where I'll just look at my overall sales and look at what I'm spending and just make sure it hasn't changed.

James Blatch: I recently spent a full day doing nothing but trying to work out what the break-even A cost on the books we sell and I put a lot of maths into it and it came out. It sort of was showing me, it was about six or 700% on A cost was still profitable but that's we're very heavily skewed towards page read like 72%.

Karen Inglis: Oh, okay because I know one thing I often say to children's authors, you say, "How do I know?" And I say, "Well, look." I remember writing this down because I'm not mathematical. The royalty divided by the on sale price is the paperback break-even A cost. So the royalty divided by the on sale price because sometimes Amazon will reduce the price of your book and if it does that your A cost break-even will change because you still get the same royalty no matter what.

The one thing that's puzzled me, page reads isn't such a big deal for me. I do since lockdown in particular, they've gone up. I think, I get about 6000 page reads a day, something like that with The Secret Lake but I sort of ignore them. But that page read thing, if you're advertising say, your third book, how do you take account of the cost of that advertising, if you've already sort of built into that your first advertising campaign, the fact that they were going to be reading that third book that you're now advertising? Does that make sense?

James Blatch: Yeah, it does. I've only advertised book one in the series-

Karen Inglis: Oh, okay. So that would be the answer.

James Blatch: ... because they are quite closely linked and so the two unknowns are how to attribute page reads to your advertising and of course, read through, which is what you're referring to, is what the benefit of people would go on and read your series.

Karen Inglis: Yeah, read through and that's what I was, yeah.

James Blatch: We use benchmarking to look at what happened before you start advertising, what happens after advertising and I've written a blog on this recently actually, but yes, it's going to change when they bring in attributable page reads to your advertising.

Karen Inglis: I watched your podcast the other day with the guy from Prestozon and yeah, it sounds as though they're very keen to do whatever they can to help with that.

James Blatch: They are and they're very close with Amazon so I actually had a call a couple of nights ago with the guy in charge of the Amazon API, which is the backend of the advertising process and he is all over Prestozon and SPF and publishers and Amazon.

It can be frustrating when things change with the platform but I think, genuinely, they're going to change for the better. The Facebook as a platform for me is much more pleasurable to use and operate. I really enjoy it, actually.

Karen Inglis: I must then.

James Blatch: Yeah, it's something for your future. Anyway, we want to get stuff out of you rather than you get stuff out of me. That's for another day. So you have this great success. Your kind of anchor, if you like, is Secret Lake, which is great. Congratulations on that.

Karen Inglis: Oh, thank you.

James Blatch: All the others build up together as well so this is earnings for you that are equivalent to a kind of full-time job?

Karen Inglis: More.

James Blatch: Excellent.

Karen Inglis: My consultancy work I used to do was well paid because I was on a good day rate but no, this is probably well, this, particularly in the last six months I would say, it's very good earnings. Very good earnings, so which was at one point when I was looking at what I was spending on the ads and I was slightly panicking thinking, oh, my God, I've got my husband to check all my figures because I was a bit worried that I might have it all wrong if you know what I mean. I was spending all this money and not really making enough but yeah. No, not bad to put it that way.

James Blatch: Good, so it is possible, children's books can be self published, can be marketed by yourself and be profitable and turn into a career.

Karen Inglis: Yeah, but you have to do it properly and put in all the work and things like I think, I shared on the blog the other day, now, you put in that advanced... I've hesitated a bit when people have said to me, "Should I do the course?" Because, it's a whole lot of money to shell out and I'm very aware with children's authors. I remember how it was for me that really, it's hard to make a living but you have to have, it has to be a very long, you have to look at it as a very longterm investment but also be prepared to put that time in. But I've always done that.

So way back in, I was telling you, in the days of 2011 when I was in the Createspace community learning how it all worked. I got into Amazon Advantage. I'm kind of that's how I am. So you've got to be quite driven I suppose as well. There are some successful children's authors. Gemma Hatch is doing really well so, and if you write in a series like Gemma does, then that's even better.

James Blatch: Foreign rights ...Is that profitable for you at the moment?

Karen Inglis: Well, it is profitable in the sense that I used to, a couple of years ago, as I was looking at ways to try and find, get in contact with overseas publishers and it's a long laborious process. You've got to go through catalogues or reverse engineer trying to find the names and the right contacts and I wasn't really getting very far.

But what's happened is since The Secret Lake has been selling so well, they're just contacting me. I haven't had to do the leg work in the sense of finding the people. What has been quite time consuming but all the way I thought, no, this is good because the more I get to understand it, the more I'm in a position for the next deal to be, I know what I'm talking about. It's just getting the contract terms and what have you.

The first deal was a couple of years ago, was Albania and then Russia and now, I've got Turkey. I've just signed and I'm about to sign for the Czech Republic. I've also had China and the Ukraine and what's happened is I've asked as time's gone on, particularly in the case of Russia, they on that occasion sent me the contract, which when I looked at it, it was a bit of a mishmash but it'd clearly been done by I don't know, someone like David Williams lawyers.

So I thought, oh, this is useful. This is quite useful because I can sort of, I have a business plain English copyrighting hat on. I could see that it really needed plain English-ing, a lot of it and I thought, well, I'll use some useful stuff in here when I go to the next contract, which is what I've now done.

In the last couple, I've actually said, "Right, I'll supply you the contract. So here it is." It's all much more plain English but it's got all the right stuff in it. You've got to be careful about what you're giving away and reversion rights and all that stuff.

James Blatch: But the nice thing I suppose, from the self-publishing point of view, it makes you hybrid in a way but you basically sell the rights and then somebody else is then dealing with all the formatting and printing and...

Karen Inglis: Yeah, because if it's going to be in Russian, there's no way I can do anything. But what I am separately doing, which is unrelated to that is I have commissioned a German translation of The Secret Lake, a bit like Mark's done.

James Blatch: Oh, yes.

Karen Inglis: That's actually the manuscript is due back to me today and what I did, was I did a dry run at Christmas with The Christmas Tree Wish, that's the Christmas book you can see over there. I had that translated into German and into French. So I paid a German translator. I paid a German editor.

Ditto French because even though I have a French degree, I'm not supposing that I would know what the right voice is. So I thought, if you do it, do it properly. Well actually, the French one sold more than the German but they both sold. But I just decided with The Secret Lake, I'm going to try. It's selling consistently on the German site now that we can do the German advertising. I mean, not in huge numbers, but I'm making a profit on the ads.

James Blatch: Good.

Karen Inglis: And I thought, well, it's a bit like Mark. So what The Secret Lake has allowed me to do is to invest some of that income. Yes, so basically I did a dry run at Christmas with the picture book and it was a lot of research to find Joanna, the girl who's done the translation.

I was reverse engineering looking on Amazon at which traditionally published books had been published there in German and then finding out the name of the translators and Googling it and getting it that way. But I was also looking on, you can find, it's not difficult, you can find German or French, whichever language you want to translate into, you can find their literary translator's associations and then find names that way. I can't remember which way but I found Joanna. She did that and then I found separately and editor in a similar way.

Then I've just decided to try it this time. So she's just done The Secret Lake. I then needed an editor and now, this is obviously a bigger job and actually I thought I'd have a quick look on Reedsy because they've just started doing the translations side of things. They have very few children's ones on there but there was one and I've gone through Reedsy. Ashley turned out, she was on my list but it doesn't matter. I don't mind giving them the project.

James Blatch: Yeah, he can.

Karen Inglis: I like to support. I like to support what they're doing anyway, so I've used them once before and so that will be coming back to me and then the editor will be taking it over and I will you know, and then they will have a conversation and then there's a separate German proofreader that the editors recommended to me who's going to proofread it. So that's a whole new thing and we'll see and if it works well, I might get her to do Eeek!. We'll see.

James Blatch: So there is a lot of work in being a children's author in self-publishing as you say and you do have to be on top of all that detail.

Some of the advantages though, I guess, translation costs would be a lot less for you than they are for a fiction author who writes 100,000-word novel, which is a positive thing and will help with margins.

Karen Inglis: It's all based on words, isn't it. Yeah.

James Blatch: But one of the disadvantages, which you did refer to earlier, I actually just want to sort of finish by talking about, is the fact that you can't advertise to your readers very easily. You're advertising to their grandparents and parents and older uncles and aunts, I guess. So tell me how that works with you.

How do you target?

Karen Inglis: Interestingly, when I used to try the Facebook advertising thing, I would go in and select parents with kids eight to 12, grandparents, whatever it was but somehow, it didn't work. It just ate my money as it were. Now, I think, if I went and tried that now, I might have better luck because I've got way more social proof with The Secret Lake so that's one way you can do it.

Personally for me, until Amazon advertising came along, mine was through school visits. It was just setting up school visits and making my website look friendly and all the rest of it and asking in the back of The Secret Lake, if you enjoy it, please consider leaving a review. Ask a grownup to help you because you've then got to be very careful about GDPR and all that stuff.

But I think, what's happened, the tipping point of The Secret Lake again has been because it's now sold so many books, kids are telling each other about it and the more that tell each other about it, the more they then nag the parents to buy it.

I've actually now, also got a separate short print run arrangement with Clays Publishing and they supply Gardners for me because I sell a lot of books now through Gardners and the reason I do that is that as you probably well know, or Mark will have understood, which is why he's probably using Ingram with the publisher is that if you do print on demand and someone goes into a bookshop, invariably the bookshop will tell you, "Well, we can't get it for three weeks or it's problematic because it's print on demand."

They can get it but it's problematic and so I suddenly thought, gosh, if all these kids are now talking about The Secret Lake and their parents go into bookshops and told it's three weeks delivery that's not going to look good. I will now go to Clays and so they print me. I've just had an order of 500. They keep 100 at a time and then when Gardners orders they supply them and then when their stock runs low I send them some back and it's...

But that's to come back to what you were talking about, it's kids telling each other now, which is actually probably my main marketing thing and they're also leaving lots of... The reviews on Amazon have gone through the roof and I guess, that's just a function of the volume of the books being sold and they're also leaving reviews. I've got a site called TheSecretLake.com, which I set up when I first got the book before I had my author website and I had a page on there. I was quite something in the early days.

I had free pages that they could read and those are still on there. I remember people saying to me, "Oh you're making your chapters. That's interesting. That's odd putting free parts of your book online." And were a bit snooty and I thought, well how else am I going to get people to know about this book since it's self-published? I also had a page on there called reviews. So if you go there and you look up TheSecretLake.com and you read forward slash reviews, loads and loads of children leave reviews on there.

James Blatch: Wow.

Karen Inglis: When I put it together, I did it in such a way that makes it abundantly clear that you have to get a grownup's permission. You've got to use an avatar. Your email address will not be reused and they go in and I always reply to them.

James Blatch: Sorry. I was just full of praise for you that you've worked really hard, Karen at making this, at getting over some of the, what looked like insurmountable hurdles that you can't market to children. You can't have connection with children because they don't have the online presence and that's all fraught with GDPR but you've worked hard to do that.

And the Amazon adverts in terms of targeting them?

Karen Inglis: Well, you can't. Oh, well, there it's the same as it would be for any book so I will be targeting by genre like picture books for ages three to five or adventure books for ages eight to 11. If you think about it, it is no real difference.

James Blatch: Yeah, that's fascinating.

Karen Inglis: That's all you can do. Obviously before lockdown and hopefully things will go back to normal, you've got your school visits and all that stuff, which I still say in How to Self-Publish and Market a Children's Book start local. You've got to start building your brand and you can do that locally as well.

There's a whole army and I really take my hats off to them in the States particularly, of children's authors who do a whole different thing. They don't do self-publishing. So they do self-publishing but they don't do the print on demand model. They actually order their books from China and have them delivered in truckloads, actually 2000 at a time.

James Blatch: Just, on the economics I mean, Clays are of a famous and old book printers in the UK. I can remember reading Clays and Ives books when I was a kid so they've been around a long time.

In terms of the economics of that, although, you have to pay upfront, I'm assuming the print costs are lower than what you're being charged on POD from Amazon?

Karen Inglis: Yes. So it only makes sense and I've advised children's authors on this before, the Clays thing only makes sense if you know you've got a best seller, is what I would say. There's no point doing it otherwise because you're not going to sell enough because people are not going to walk into bookshops and ask for your book unless they know about you. That was the problem I faced in the early days and so you don't really want to be going and so therefore, Clays becomes affective in terms of print costs for sort of anything above 100 books as far as something like The Secret Lake goes. It starts to become on a par with what you might pay from IngramSpark for example. Plus, you've got the benefit they've got this arrangement with Gardners that they will send stuff to them and they will hold the stock.

James Blatch: Gardners are a wholesale distributor of books in the UK.

Karen Inglis: They're a wholesaler and now, of course, I think, they've now taken Bertrams is just folded. But Bertrams is another one. But they've folded and I think, Gardners has taken over their stock or something.

People agonise over getting into bookshops but I kind of say, with my other books I'm not worrying about it because you can't. The effort involved is not worth the return. You want to focus on getting those books sold at your local events, at school events and online.

The other big thing that I will be focusing on come September once I've got... I have these foreign rights going on, I have picture book going on, which I now need to try and promote, is also more online school visits and things as well. I've done a few of these in the past and I've not charged for them but it's something that one should charge for and find a way to monetize it but be fair at the same time.

James Blatch: Yeah, at least to cover your costs and then benefit hopefully from the need for the sales.

Karen Inglis: Yeah, I mean, just the preparation time or yeah.

James Blatch: Karen, it's been brilliant talking to you. I think, just give us a plug again for your blog, or your author's site. I know you've written a book of nonfiction, which we haven't mentioned specifically but are really worth reading particularly for children's authors. So where can people find that?

Karen Inglis: Right, so selfpublishingadventures.com is my blog and How to Self-Publish and Market a Children's Book is on there and I should add to that, that my next project, once I clear my decks now, is I'm going to update that book because it's two years old now. It's all I future proofed it when I wrote it so everything in there holds but I will be now, updating some things because obviously things have changed with regard to advertising, and this, that and the other.

It didn't go in depth into advertising anyway and I won't go super in depth into advertising either but I will sort of probably have a little checklist of things to just bear in mind when you're advertising for children. I hope to get that out. I'd like to think it's going to be the autumn but anybody who's already got the book, I will, they will already know there's a link to a download area where I will give an overview of what the updates are and then they can make their minds up whether they want to buy the new book or not.

James Blatch: Brilliant.

Karen Inglis: So yeah, so that will be on there.

James Blatch: Great. Well, Karen, hopefully at some point we'll see each other in person again in London maybe over-

Karen Inglis: Yeah, can I plug my little book before I go my new one?

James Blatch: Yes, of course you can.

Karen Inglis: Here we go. It's called The Tell-Me Tree and was inspired by a local tree on Bronze Green near to where I live and it was going round in my head for two years. This is why you asked me about writing stories and I knew I wanted to write a story about this tree and it would be friendly and it would be a tree that children went to but I couldn't think of what the story would be and then I happened to overhear a conversation that somebody I don't know, a parent saying how her child had come home from school one day and had drawn a picture and they suddenly realised that she was really unhappy at school. That gave me the idea. I suddenly said, "Oh, this is going to be a tree where children can come and talk and tell me your worries. Tell me your cares. Share your best dreams or your scary nightmares."

So it can be a place where you do happy stuff or less than happy and just encouraging children to share through writing, drawing, and it's got exercises, not exercises. It's got fun activities in there and downloads links and what have you.

James Blatch: How lovely and the idea, I see exactly what you're talking about. They ruminate and they come to you and they need to be written so it's difficult sometimes to cause that a different action. Brilliant.

Karen, thank you so much. I know that children's authors will find great value in what you do and just generally a self-publishing success story, which we're always thrilled to feature.

Karen Inglis: Well, great. It's great to be in the same community isn't it?

James Blatch: It is. Thanks, Karen.

Karen Inglis: Take care. Bye.

James Blatch: There we go, children's books. Now, I did notice you posted a lovely moment this week on social media about your daughter reading a Tommy Donbavand book. Think you said, she got to her because they're a little bit scary for very young children, the whole idea of them.

Mark Dawson: She's nearly nine now, but she's reading Jacqueline Wilson and we've run out of Jacqueline Wilson books to read so she said, "Oh, hold on, daddy." And she went into the cupboard where she keeps her books and she took down the boxed set that Tommy sent us. There's 12 books, I think, in his series. Well, certainly around 12 and she took it down and took the first one out and I'm thinking, I haven't read this yet. So I don't know.

She's not good with being scared. She's a little bit timid sometimes. So anyway, I read to her at nighttime so I lie down next to her on the bedside to read and it was like, this could go either way. This could go one of two ways.

She may not sleep tonight because she's scared or she'll be okay, and I think, she seems to be okay but the nice thing about it was that we raised quite a lot of money for Tommy and his family. Obviously Tommy sadly passed away last year or the year before after a nasty, well, that's an understatement, an awful bout with cancer and he very kindly sent me a box of books. He asked if the kids were old enough. I said, "Not yet." But he sent them anyway and as we opened the first one he'd signed it to, Simon and Freya. Scream, from Tommy. I just thought, I wonder... I wonder, he wouldn't have signed the other ones and I went through and this is from someone, I've signed quite a lot of books recently.

I went through the box and he'd signed every one and each one had a different message so I was very... It was a lovely gesture and yeah, so far, Freya hasn't had nightmares so hopefully we'll be out to enjoy those books. But yeah, good read. We had fun when we started getting into them.

James Blatch: Yeah, so cruel, that Tommy got struck down with cancer and we lost him to that. In fact, as this podcast goes out a week on Friday from where we're recording it, a week tomorrow, two days after, I'm going to be cycling 100 miles for my mom who was also taken from us with cancer 15 years ago. It feels like five minutes but in her case, pancreatic cancer, which is an awful one to get. The survival rates are terrible for that.

So what I might do is a sneaky little thing, is I might put my just giving, my virgin giving link into the podcast notes. I won't put it into the SPF groups and so on. That's really going a bit too far, but should people wish to help pancreatic cancer, the fight against that, I will be doing my bit on Sunday. If you're in Cambridge here and you want to stand by the side of the road, I'll probably pass you at some point because 100 miles does cover the whole of Cambridge here.

Mark Dawson: Fred's looking at you.

James Blatch: Yes, Fred roll. You'll drive in your silent electric car and creep up behind me. Good.

Okay, look, thank you very much indeed to our guest, Karen Inglis. Always a pleasure to speak to Karen and hopefully we will be sharing a glass of wine in person, as I said in the interview, at some point in the future. That's it, Mark. Anything else to add? Anything about Karate Kid or anything about the '80s back you want to raise again?

Mark Dawson: No, I'm done with that. I've got to go home. I think it's quite warm actually. It's getting warm. We're going to have a warm weekend from the forecast so I think I might jump in the pool when I go home and do some swimming.

James Blatch: The Apple Weather app says it's going to be 35 tomorrow, which is approaching 100 degrees in the UK so-

Mark Dawson: That's hot.

James Blatch: That's jump in the pool weather. Good, and I'm going to be in the Cotswolds next week, not too far from you, actually. I'm going to be cycling if you want to come out. You've got your cheaty bike there haven't you? Your battery bike.

Mark Dawson: I personally need it.

James Blatch: Yeah, you do. Okay, that's it. Thank you-

Mark Dawson: I'm cheating.

James Blatch: Yeah, thank you very much, indeed. All that remains for me to say is that it's a goodbye from him.

Mark Dawson: And a goodbye from me.

James Blatch: Goodbye.

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